North Adams Winterfest
On Saturday, brush off the cobwebs and head over to downtown North Adams for the 16th annual Winterfest, a celebration of community warmth and winter. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and beyond, the streets will fill with activities and entertainment from horse-drawn wagon rides to a roaring campfire.
Main Street is the heartbeat of the festivities. All along the roadway, admiring audiences can watch local artists deftly turn substantial frozen blocks of ice into artistic and often amusing creations with chisels and chainsaws. Kids who catch the creative bug can make their own winter-themed art projects to take home, after enjoying some warming complimentary hot chocolate.
The annual chowder contest is always a delicious draw for many festival goers, as restaurants and food service providers from up and down Berkshire County vie for bragging rights. Chowder hounds can sample tasty clam and corn-filled concoctions at soup stations and vote for their favorite recipe, be it a creamy New England-style chowder or a hearty tomato-based New York-style variation.
At 3 p.m. over at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park, watch "Spirits of the Winter Sky," a program on auroras, ephemeral phenomena of northern and southern climes.
As the sun goes down on a lengthening winter's day, the North Adams Skating Rink will become the center of attention with a community skating party for all ages. Most Winterfest activities are free. For a full schedule, visit www.northadams-ma.gov. Information: (413) 664-6180.
There won't be much shushing going on at the Pittsfield Library on Saturday. There will be putting instead, as avid golfers young and old try to sink their golf balls on the greens in the second annual Berkshire Gas "Links for Literacy" Mini Golf Classic.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. amid the book-filled stacks, families can play a full 18 holes of miniature golf scattered around all three levels of the downtown Pittsfield building. Bumpers will keep the balls on course, while devious deflectors and all manner of obstacles will make reaching the hole an entertaining challenge.
Kids can also enjoy fanciful face painting and snacks in the auditorium to add to the family-friendly fun.
The annual event raises funds to support Literacy Volunteers of Berkshire County. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit organization, which is based at the library, has helped adults learn how to read and write with one-on-one tutoring tailored to the individuals' interests and needs, all at no cost.
Trained and qualified volunteer tutors also help people such as recent immigrants who speak other native languages to improve their conversational English. As many as 70 people each year are assisted by this important free community service.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 and includes one round of golf. Information: www.pittsfieldlibrary.org or (413) 499-9480, ext. 100.
In the short time that new director Christina Olsen has been at the helm, the monthly "WCMA at Night" gatherings have rapidly taken off with music, dance, exhibition, performance and visual art, not to mention generous arrays of food and libations.
Tonight from 5 to 9 p.m., a "Lit Café" will celebrate books with art and performances. A book exchange will benefit local libraries; to participate, donate two books and take one home. All ages are welcome and admission is free. Information: wcma.williams.edu, or (413) 597-2429.