PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire Museum was at capacity Friday night, filled with family, friends and colleagues of the three community leaders that took home the first-ever Berkshire Awards.
The three inaugural winners --the Crane family, Community Access to the Arts Founder and Executive Director Sandy Newman and naturalist, writer and educator Thom Smith -- were honored because of their dedication to perpetuating the rich nature and culture of the Berkshires.
"We hope it inspires people to do something that's essential to the quality of life here," said Van Shields, the museum's executive director.
The awards were made by Michael and Maureen Banner, two local silversmiths, and were inspired by the awards given during the first agricultural fairs in Pittsfield in the 1800s.
It was a dignified event complete with black dresses and suits.
During a cocktail reception that kicked off the evening, the 250 attendees packed the museum lobby, sipping wine and munching on hors d'oeuvres.
"There are so many people here, and I'm surprised that I know so many," said Smith, one of the award winners.
Newman, another of the honorees, called the award "quite an honor" while hugging and shaking hands with people congratulaing her. Newman brought her 100-year-old mother, Helen Sierles, who on Monday moved to the Berkshires from New Jersey.
"I'm very proud of my daughter," Sierles said. "She's made a difference in so
The crowd then filed into the museum theatre, where short videos about each of the candidates played on the screen before they accepted their awards. The videos were produced by the museum and filmed by 10th Street Entertainment out of New York City.
"I had to stop fidgeting long enough for them to shoot it," Smith said.
The Crane family's award was unique in that it honored the whole family's service, which stretches back to the 1800s. In 1903, Zenas Crane founded the Berkshire Museum.
David Crane received the award on behalf of the entire family.
"It's very nice to be recognized as a family," he said. "It really goes back many years, and it's been carried down through generations."
After the videos and presentation of awards, dinner was served in the Ellen Crane Memorial Room with a musical backdrop.
"For the first year, we're very gratified with the turnout," said Lesley Ann Beck, the museum's director of communications. "We definitely plan to keep it going on an annual basis."
To reach Adam Poulisse:
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse