Hancock Shaker Village activities abound for 53rd season


PITTSFIELD -- New workshops along with annual favorites, such as baby animals and the country fair, are some of the many festivities in the 53rd season at Hancock Shaker Village.

The Hancock Shaker Village, a living history museum located on Route 20 in Pittsfield and Hancock, includes 20 fully furnished historic buildings that depict daily life at the Shaker village, established in the late 1780s. The museum's summer season runs from April 13 through Oct. 27.

Beginning Saturday, April 13, through May 5, visitors can visit a perennial favorite, the baby animal showcase that includes piglets, calves and chicks. There will also be an exhibit called "Patterns" by Stockbridge artist Susan Merrill that runs from April 13 through May 12. The exhibit recognizes the distinctive patterns of fur and feathers, as well as groupings of animals in their pastures and pens.

The new season includes year-round workshops, large-scale events like the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair, and exhibits.

Hancock Shaker Village will be the launch site for a full marathon and 50-mile ultramarathon on Sept. 21. The Berkshire to Boston Bicycle Tour will also launch from the site on Sept. 19.

"There are some of the tried-and-true favorites, but these are also some new ones," said Laura Wolf, director of operations and marketing.

The season includes an eclectic mix of workshops that cover everything from backyard beekeeping (May 11), backyard poultry basics (June 1), and advanced oval box making (June 15-16).

There are three new workshops focused on wall quilts that began in March and will continue in April and May.

"We're excited about giving real hands-on instruction," Wolf said. "Quilting is really detailed and truly fine workmanship. The instructors we have are truly fine artists but also effective teachers."

One of the new exhibits at the Poultry House Gallery will focus on distinguishing "fake" Shaker chairs against originals.

"The Shaker design is so well known and respected for clean lines and efficiencies," Wolf said. "It's certainly an inspiration to architect and artisans, but these imitations are not always done with the best Shaker designs."

Since last year, the Hancock Shaker Village website also has been revamped using a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services.

There are other Hancock Shaker ventures that include a community supported agriculture program, which allows community members to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.

For additional schedule information, visit hancockshakervillage.org or call (413) 443-0188.

The beginnings of the Shakers trace back to 1747 in Manchester, England. The religious sect became known as the Shakers because of the trembling, whirling and shaking that affected them during their spiritually ecstatic workshop services.


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