Maple festival and blues: Feel spring coming


Hopkins Forest

The Williams College-owned Hopkins Forest in Williamstown, open to the public year-round, offers many recreational opportunities, including seasonal hunting, cross-country skiing and hiking on trails that wind through the 2,600-acre property.

Several times a year, the college hosts special events that honor its mission to teach and inform. One such annual highlight is Maplefest, a celebration of the bounty harvested from the forest's native maple tree groves.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Williams College environmental staff and students will demonstrate many of the activities associated with the production of maple syrup. For the past 30 years, students have harvested the sweet stuff in the forest each spring when the warming March days stir the trees to draw sap stored in its roots up to the branches to nourish the growth of twigs and buds.

The students will fire up the sugar house, filling it with sticky sweet steam as the sap slowly thickens to the right consistency to add a finish to breakfast fare throughout New England and beyond.

Help tap the trees and gather sap, view examples of old-time evaporating methods that predate the Colonial era, and sample syrupy pancakes and chewy "sugar on snow." Admission is free, and the event will take place rain or shine. Information:, (413) 597-4353.

Berkshire Museum

Since its January opening, people have flocked to the exhibit about bats on view in the galleries of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. On Sunday at 1 p.m., visitors will come face to face with the living creatures.

As executive director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, Rob Mies has shared his knowledge in a book, on film and on television talk shows, showing his enthusiasm for and appreciation for these useful, often misunderstood flying mammals.

He will give visitors a chance to listen to the bat's navigational echolocation system using a "bat detector," an introduce bats from around the world -- from African and Asian fruit bats to the Big Brown bat more familiar to residents of North America -- and the Gigantic Flying Fox of Malaysia, the world's largest bat, with an awe-inspiring six foot wingspan. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for children, and free for ages 3 and under and include museum admission. Information:, (413) 443-7171.

Mass MoCA

As it pursues its multi-faceted mission to be both a modern art museum and live performing arts venue, Mass MoCA attracts music fans of all tastes with an eclectic lineup of performers.

On Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in Club B-10, following on from her concert and instrument making workshop for children at last fall's FreshGrass festival, blues singer and guitarist Mamie Minch will return with a lively program to engage kids and parents.

Minch writes and performs her own original blues songs, creating a sound that recalls old-style revival tunes. She will perform with a full band at 8 p.m. that evening. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., by day she lovingly cares for and repairs modern and vintage guitars.

Tickets for the kid's concert are $5 per person. Information:, (413) 662-2111.


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