A re-enactor dressed as Napoleon rides onto the field.
A re-enactor dressed as Napoleon rides onto the field. (Associated Press)

Old Austerlitz

Defy the laws of physics and travel back in time from the village of Old Austerlitz in Columbia County, N.Y., to the town of Austerlitz in the days of the Austrian empire, when Brigade Napoleon -- a group of re-enactment enthusiasts with more than 100 members -- sets up a Napoleonic-era encampment at the village to pay tribute to the pivotal 1805 Battle of Austerlitz.

One of Napoleaon's greatest victories, this battle in the Czech village of Austerlitz took Austria out of the Napoleonic wars, signalled the end of the Holy Roman Empire -- and defeated British Prime Minister William Pitt, the man who gave Pittsfield its name.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, the 18th-century buildings of Austerlitz, N.Y., will become the backdrop for this military confrontation. Re-enactors in elaborate brocade-embellished costumes will take part in skirmishes and battle scenarios as they re-create scenes from this important historic event from both the French and opposing Austrian and Russian viewpoints.

Foot soldiers armed with muskets and cavalry officers on their horses will present a stirring sight as the sworn enemies confront each other on the village battlefield.

Learn about authentic camp life complete with military music and crafts from these dedicated re-enactors, who travel from across the United States and Canada, many with battle-trained horses in tow to take part in events in North America and Europe.

As darkness falls on Saturday evening, step lightly at an English Country Dance in the newly raised Morey Devereaux Barn, with rousing live music and evocative period costumes. Lessons will take place from 7 to 8 p.m., followed by spirited dancing from 8 to 10 p.m.

All are invited to dress up in the style of old if desired to capture the mood of earlier days and add to the historic experience. A donation for the band is requested.

Admission to the encampment is $5 for adults, and free for kids under 12. While picnics are welcomed, pets are not allowed on the grounds. Information: www.battleofausterlitz.org, (518) 392-0062.

Sandisfield Arts Center

When a community cabaret takes place in a creative hotspot populated by talented local residents -- many of whom are also professional performers -- the evening reaches new standards of family entertainment. On Saturday at 7 p.m., the rafters of Sandisfield Arts Center will rock -- and roll -- to a range of rhythms from gospel to tango, when the fifth annual Sandisfield Family Cabaret Night hits the boards with a full program of local bands, cabaret artists, Hip Hop dancers and more.

Hilarious sketches led by Master of Ceremonies and dancer Anni Crofut will punctuate the evening, which will include a performance by classical cello virtuoso Ivan Trabka and a short fictional film visit to the Von Trapp Family Inn by Rachel Siegel.

Cabarets in years past have seen appearances by the likes of internationally renowned opera singer Benjamin Luxon and slam poetry champion Taylor Mali.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids aged 14 and under. The proceeds will benefit the recently renovated Arts Center, and advance reservations are recommended. Information: www.sandisfieldartscenter.org, (413) 258-4100.

Little Red Schoolhouse

Since December last year, IS183 Art School and the South Williamstown Community Association have collaborated to reinvent the Little Red Schoolhouse -- a building that formerly housed a popular community preschool in the historic Five Corners district of South Williamstown -- as Little Red, a North County resource for a wide range of creative classes for children and adults in studio arts such as painting, collage and photography as well as yoga, the written word and more.

On Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., the partnership will host an open house to give the community an opportunity to meet many of the faculty who teach at Little Red and watch them demonstrate their skills in their media of expertise.

The family event will include hands-on art activities for children and food by local natural market Wild Oats, along with a raffle for special prizes including a $150 IS183 gift certificate and membership to the Clark Art Institute.

Admission to the open house is free. Information: www.is183.org, (413) 298-5252.