Father-daughter Valentine's Day dance, snowshoe hike entertain families


Valentine's Dance

Dads and their daughters can spend a memorable evening together on Saturday at the annual Father Daughter Valentine Dance from 7 to 10 p.m. at St. Mark's Parish Center in Pittsfield. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first dance, which was organized by local resident Jim Massery as a way to give young girls a chance to spend quality time with their busy dads and to have the social experience of being treated in a respectful and considerate manner by the male role models in their lives.

Now upwards of 500 people attend the popular event, ready to dance the night away to thoughtfully chosen musical selections.

Both daughters and dads make extra effort to dress up for the occasion, and they can look forward to arriving in style thanks to the free limo rides that transport gaggles of girls and doting dads from the parking lot to the front door.

Each year, volunteers spends long hours adorning the venue with Valentine's Day-themed decorations. The centerpiece is a heart-shaped arch made of red, white and pink balloons that serves as the backdrop for father-daughter photos, always a momento to take home.

Moms need not feel left out, as they are always welcome to help out with decorating and refreshments.

Tickets cost $10 and are available at the door. Attendees are asked to bring a baked good to share. Information: (413) 443-2740.

Field Farm

There's no need to stay cooped up indoors during the winter. All around the region, opportunities exist to explore both heritage and nature in fun, family-friendly fashion.

On Sunday, from 1 to 3 p.m., head over to Field Farm in Williamstown and join naturalists Pam Weatherbee and Leslie Reed-Evans on an exploration of winter habitats around this Trustees of Reservations property.

Find and follow the tracks left by deer, coyote and hardy fowl as they go about their wintery business, then marvel at the beauty of dormant plant life, from the subtle colors of dried stalks to sculptural seed pods.

Afterwards, warm up around the campfire and savor some gooey toasted marshmallows.

Field Farm stands on 300 acres, with four miles of trails with impressive views of Mount Greylock, gardens filled with contemporary sculptures, and two modernist-style buildings: the Guest House, and the Folly, an unusual pinwheel-patterned structure that is open for tours during summer and fall.

Admission is free, and donations are welcomed. Meet at the Guest House parking area and bring snow shoes or skis if needed. The inclement weather date is Sunday Feb. 10. Information: www.thetrustees.org, (413) 532-1631, ext. 20.

Irish travels

Tonight at 7 p.m. at Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company's second stage venue in Pittsfield, warm up the winter with some Irish tales courtesy of Kevin O'Hara, a longtime Pittsfield resident and writer who brings his Irish heritage to the forefront as he shares his adventures from far afield and close to home.

His book, "Last of the Donkey Pilgrims," recounts his travels around the coastline of the Emerald Isle alongside a donkey cart led by his faithful soft-earred companion, Missy.

His sharp-eyed observations of both the scenery and personalities he encounters on his way provide a vivid recollection of his experiences.

"A Lucky Irish Lad" describes his childhood growing up in Pittsfield in the 1950s and 1960s with his large family of Irish immigrants and a few Yankee-born siblings.

O'Hara will also preview selections from "Memoirs of a Bearded Nurse" about his three decades as a Berkshire Medical Center psychiatric nurse, due to be published next year.

In 2012, O'Hara was honored with the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Award, presented each year to a distinguished Irish American. Past recipients have included politicians, performers, religious leaders and even an astronaut.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and admission is free on a space available basis.

Donations are welcome, and proceeds benefit a local high school scholarship for studies in the arts. Information: www.mass-culture.org/Pittsfield, (413) 464-9761.


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