Baby animals inspire a warm and fuzzy feeling in Hancock Shaker Village visitors

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PITTSFIELD — Peyton Pravia from Pittsfield couldn't wait to get in the stall and pet the 4-day-old goat, curled up in the hay taking a midday nap.

"Nice and soft," said the 5-year-old girl.

Peyton didn't hesitate get up close and personal with the calves, lambs and other newborns in the Round Stone Barn at Hancock Shaker Village.

"She has no fear at all," noted the youngster's mother, Lauren Pravia. "I'm an animal lover, too. I like the [piglets.]"

The Pravias joined roughly 2,000 children of all ages who fawned over the barnyard critters making their public debut during Baby Animals weekend.

The April tradition marks the start of the new spring and summer schedule of music, dance, guest speakers and family-friendly special events staged within a replica of 19th-century farming that straddles the Pittsfield-Hancock border.

The Saturday and Sunday festivities also featured face painting, balloon art, hay wagon rides, behind-the-scenes tours and demonstrations of Shaker farm life.

Nevertheless, the newborn livestock were the headliners, drawing a steady flow of visitors to the Round Stone Barn.

"The wonder of the baby animals for the children and adults, for many of them it's a different experience," said Ruth Burday, an interpreter in the barn.

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Young Sammy Budd was particularly fond of Willow the calf.

"The cow is real cool ... nice and soft," he said.

Caitlin Spara was thrilled the weather was warm. The event coordinator at Hancock Shaker Village appreciated the mild, rain-free conditions that helped evenly distribute the weekend attendance.

"Last year on Sunday it was snowy and cold, so just about everyone came on Saturday," she said. "We like when it doesn't rain so we can hold the pony rides."

Party Time Ponies of Hinsdale provided the equine entertainment as children mounted Frank, a quarter horse painted, or the small Welsh pony named Winnie. Each rider got two laps around the lawn outside the tannery.

"I liked going in a circle," said 4-year-old Logan Frates after dismounting Winnie.

Owner Wendy Kowalczyk has been bringing her ponies to Baby Animals weekend for the past eight years.

"We get a lot of first-time riders," she said. "We love coming here; it's very peaceful and the people are friendly."

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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