Hancock Shaker Village to extend season with holiday-themed events

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PITTSFIELD — Hancock Shaker Village will be getting into the holiday spirit this fall.

For the first time, the living museum is offering special weekend programs and events from late-October until a week before Dec. 25.

The schedule unveiled this week kicks into high gear with 20th Annual Country Fair Sept. 23-24, featuring an expanded lineup that includes hot air balloon rides and plenty of activities for children, according to President/CEO Jennifer Trainer Thompson.

"It's the 20th anniversary and we wanted to make it the best ever," she said

Typically, the village closes for the year shortly after its weekend Fall Festival, scheduled for Oct. 14 -15 this year. But the staff felt it was a natural for the museum to get decorated for the most colorful time of the year and offer events geared toward the holidays.

"The Shakers dressed up for Halloween and they celebrated Christmas when no one else did when they arrived here in 1790," Thompson said.

The seasonal festivities start with Haunted Hancock, three of the four Fridays in October, culminating with Halloween at Hancock on Oct. 28 that includes trick-or-treating, pumpkin painting and spooky stories in the barn.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, the Food for Thought series welcomes chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis on Nov. 4. Two other dinner speakers include singer-songwriter Dar Williams Sept. 30 and novelist Rachel Urquhart, Oct. 14.

The village this spring introduced Food for Thought inviting dinner speakers with insight on the topics of the day as guests dined on specially prepared meals.

"Four of the five dinners we've had already sold out," Thompson said. "People were hungry for good food and thoughtful speakers."

Visitors can defy Black Friday by enjoying Thanksgiving weekend on the farm Nov. 24-26, which also kicks of the month-long Hancock Holidays featuring holiday workshops for children and adults, ornament making and baby animals — a popular spring attraction— born in the fall.

Overall, the extended museum season is in keeping with its mission, Thompson said.

"Food, music, ideas and art carry the beating heart of a Shaker culture that helps us remember and realign ourselves with the simple values of caring for ourselves, each other and our community," she said.

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.

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