Friday July 27, 2012

SANDISFIELD -- Fried clams, alpaca farms and rascals from history: For its 250th birthday, Sandisfield is celebrating everything that makes the Berkshires' largest by area, but most sparsely populated town unique.

Three days of events starting today nod to the former Housatonic Plantation No. 3's rich farming heritage, natural beauty and colonial history.

"It's been a very long time since anything of this size has been put on here, and people really came together," said Liana Toscanini, a member of the 250th Birthday Committee.

The sesquicentennial weekend begins with a theatrical history of the town, "Rascals and Others: The Real Story of Sandisfield," directed by opera singer and Sandisfield resident Ben Luxon, featuring townspeople. The skits, songs and poems on stage at 7:30 tonight pluck tales from the town's history, as written by resident Ronald Bernard in his recently published 528-page book. The stories are sometimes comic, but sometimes tragic -- like the one about a Sandisfield bride named Harriet who was shot by her lover during her wedding to another man.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, partygoers can learn Colonial-era skills from Ye Olde Lebanon Towne Militia, a group of re-enactors who will create an encampment at Carr Field on Route 57. A three-legged race, pie-eating contest, cookout, fireworks and car show -- as well as 55 vendors including Sandisfield clam institution Vic's Seafood -- will round out the offerings.

Attendees can also tour the town's numerous farms -- which raise everything from alpacas and llamas to raw milk and organic vegetables -- or take a two-mile trek through the Knox Trail.

Nearby Connecticuters are expected to join in on the fun, Toscanini said -- as they did in 1962, for the town's 200th celebration, which drew about 7,000 people.

Founded in 1762, Sandis field became a prosperous farming capital with many sawmills, tanneries and light manufacturers along its rivers. Nowadays, about 900 residents live there year-round within its 53 square miles, and the population blooms in summer to about 2,500.


If you go ...

What: Sandisfield's 250th birthday celebration

When: 7:30 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday with BBQ and dance 5 to 11 p.m.; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Most events at Carr Field on Route 57, 47 Sandisfield Road

Information: www.sandisfield.info or "Sandisfield 250" on Facebook