Much to the relief of residents and visitors hoping to enjoy the Columbus Day holiday weekend, Western New England is expected to be spared any effects of Hurricane Matthew.
And that's especially good news for two signature South Berkshire events — the 82nd annual Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival in Stockbridge and the bi-annual Berkshire Coaching Weekend, a time-traveler's delight back to the Gilded Age.
The hurricane is expected to slam into Florida's East Coast sometime Friday before drifting back out to sea, sparing the Northeast of its wrath.
With so-far muted fall foliage erupting later than usual, near-peak conditions are possible this weekend, thanks to very cool nights and exceptionally mild days, ideal for vibrant colors.
The Coaching Weekend "is not your ordinary drive through the country," said Harvey Waller of Orleton Farm on Prospect Hill Road in Stockbridge. Waller has co-organized the event with his wife, Mary Stokes Waller, eight times since the year 2000.
Horse-drawn coaches with drivers and passengers bedecked in early 20th century finery will be spotted en route from their base at Orleton Farm to a one-hour stopover at the Elm Court Estate on Old Stockbridge Road at noon on Saturday.
At midday Sunday, the destination is Southmayd Farm off Glendale Middle Road. The final stop at noon Monday is at The Mount, home of Edith Wharton's mansion and gardens at 2 Plunkett St. in Lenox.
The public is invited to bring picnic lunches and view the carriages at the three historic sites, said co-organizer Mary Stokes Waller.
Ten coaches, arriving from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, other Northeast states and as far away as Illinois, also can be admired at Orleton Farm, 31 Prospect Hill Road, beginning at 10 a.m. until their departure, and again after 2 p.m. on all three days.
"We welcome any and all to the farm," said Stokes Waller.
The coaches will proceed through downtown Stockbridge around 11:15 a.m. Sunday en route to Southmayd Farm at 2 Glendale Middle Road, with a brief stopover at the Norman Rockwell Museum off Route 183 along the way.
The tradition in the Berkshires goes back to around 1900, since the area was favored for its natural beauty by members of the Coaching Club of New York.
Among the Gilded Age luminaries who had seasonal homes in the Lenox area at that time were Augustus Schermerhorn, Harris Fahnestock, George Griswold Haven Sr. and George Griswold Haven Jr., Harry Payne White and Coaching Club President Frank K. Sturgis.
For a down-home country fair and festival experience, the 82nd annual Berkshire Harvest Festival is set for Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge at the intersection of Routes 102 and 183, two miles northwest of downtown.
The venerable event, considered one of the longest running of its kind, includes entertainment, a farmers market, tag sales, children's activities, including a haunted house, local craft vendors and artisan food booths.
It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with a $5 entrance fee, though children under 12 are admitted at no charge.
Proceeds benefit the Botanical Garden's education programs. Last year's festival attracted about 12,000 visitors, one of the highest attendance totals on record for the event.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.
Coaching Weekend . . .
11 a.m.: Coaches depart Orleton Farm, 31 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge
Noon: Arrival at Elm Court Estate, 310 Old Stockbridge Road, Lenox/Stockbridge
1:15 p.m.: Coaches depart for return to Orleton Farm
11 a.m.: Coaches depart from Orleton Farm, traveling through downtown Stockbridge around 11:15 - 11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m.: Brief stopover at Norman Rockwell Museum off Route 183
Noon: Arrrive at Southmayd Farm, 2 Glendale Middle Road, Stockbridge
1:15 a.m.: Return trip to Orleton Farm, passing through downtown Stockbridge around 1:50 a.m.
11 a.m.: Departure from Orleton Farm
Noon: Arrival at The Mount, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox
1:15 p.m.: Return to Orleton Farm
If you go ...
What: Berkshire Harvest Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Berkshire Botanical Garden, Route 183, Stockbridge
Cost: $5; free for children under 12
11 - 11:45 a.m.: Andy Kelly's Jazz Ambassadors
12 - 12:50 p.m.: Lucky Five (swing and gypsy jazz)
2 - 2:50 p.m.: Berkshire Ukulele Band
4 - 4:50 p.m.: My Mother's Moustache (Boston-based roots and variety)
11 - 1:45 a.m.: Berkshire Ramblers (old-time Americana)
12-12:50 p.m.: Moonshine Holler (folk favorites)
1 - 1:50 p.m.: David Grover (songs for kids)
2 - 2:50 p.m.: 8 Foot River (eclectic indie styles)
3 - 3:50 p.m.: John Davidson (American Songbook)
4 - 4:50 p.m.: Berkshire Summer Strings