It's a rare occasion when a major historic site such as the Village of Peace, as the Han cock Shakers called their Berk shire home, opens its doors wide to the community. On Friday, everyone is invited to visit Hancock Shaker Village at no cost as part of the statewide Highland Street Foundation "Free Fun Fridays" initiative.
Many thousands of visitors from around the world can testify that there is so much for all ages to see and do at the village -- one of the most recognizable sites in Massachusetts.
Special programs are scheduled throughout the day to add to the village experience. At 1:30 p.m., listen to traditional Shaker songs performed by costumed interpreters to get a sense of how important music was as part of daily life and worship. Over in the machine shop, a fascinating demonstration of the Water Tur bine reveals how the Shakers were quick to utilize and often invent new technology to make their work lives more efficient and industrious.
Kids will have plenty to keep them busy in the hands-on Dis covery Room, filled with Shaker-style dress-up clothes, old-fashioned toys and traditional crafts such as loom weaving and chair strapping.
The gardens and farmyard are always a highlight of any visit, with ducks, chickens and turkeys roaming about, and pigs, sheep and oxen ready to oink, baa and moo a hearty welcome. All regular activities and admission are free on Friday only. Information: www.hancockshakervillage.org, (800) 817-1137.
Tell a kid to go "Bang on a Can," and it sounds like a really fun thing to do. In fact, "Bang on a Can" is the name of an organization led by a trio of composers -- a Pulitzer prize- winner among them -- who create, champion, record and present imaginative avant garde music at the forefront of today's contemporary musical world.
Each summer, "Bang on a Can" takes over Mass MoCA in North Adams for a three-week summer Music Festival affectionately known as "Banglewood" in a nod to its cousin to the south. It features workshops, daily recitals beside the artworks in the museum's galleries, and concerts culminating in a spectacular six-hour marathon of new music.
The founders of "Bang on a Can" also make sure that local residents are given a chance to enjoy a taste of all of the marvelous music making by offering free performances in the heart of the community.
On Wednesday at 7 p.m., musicians from "Bang on a Can" will occupy the waterfront stage at North Adams' Windsor Lake park for a free sunset concert. The lineup of performers will include faculty trained at some of the top music schools and conservatories in the country, including North County's own Todd Rey nolds, along with Summer Music Festival Fellows, who are talented young musicians and composers from around the world, some as far away as Uzbekistan.
The following evening, on July 26, they will take to the streets of downtown North Adams as part of the monthly Downstreet Arts festival -- just in time for the unveiling of a new public mural by artist Maya Hayuk.
Admission to both events is free. Daily gallery recitals are in cluded in the Mass MoCA museum admission. Information: www
.massmoca.org, (413) 662-2111.
Williamstown Summer Sundays
On Sundays in July from 4 to 8 p.m., the streets of Williamstown come alive with all manner of activities for the whole family. Free live performances by local bands and musicians, hands-on art, science and music projects for children, and even a bounce house and dunk tank are just some of the entertainment options offered.
Food and craft vendors, local nonprofit information tables, and sidewalk store specials all add to the enjoyment of a summer evening's stroll through the Village Beautiful.
The event concludes with a free outdoor movie screening on Morgan Lawn at the top of Spring Street, courtesy of Images Cin ema. This Sunday's feature is the World War II-era baseball classic "A League of Their Own," starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks among a sea of familiar faces. As an extra treat, children even can have a baseball card made that features their own photo. There will be plenty of wholesome snacks and popcorn for sale to add to the movie magic. The series ends on Sunday, July 29, with "The Sound of Music." Infor mation: www.williams town
chamber.com, (413) 458-9077.