Pittsfield's 10X10 Festival to marry arts and open spaces

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PITTSFIELD — People come to the Berkshires for its scenery and its cultural offerings, so why not marry the two in the city's upcoming 10x10 Festival?

Mayor Linda Tyer said next month's ninth annual festival will showcase the city's open spaces alongside its more artistic ones, which she described as "the best of both worlds" during a Thursday news conference at Canoe Meadows.

The move to pair the two comes as part of her promise to make moves in the city's outdoor recreation economy over the course of her second term.

The festival runs throughout the city from Feb. 13 to 23. Events like an ice fishing derby, sunset strolls and a meadow-side walk featuring "owl courtship calls" join the festival's usual slate of offerings, like ice sculptures, dance and other cultural performances.

Jen Glockner, the city's cultural development director, said the ninth annual festival offers a fun-filled week for the ages. "There is truly something for everyone," she said.

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It makes natural sense to nurture the city's potential for growth in this area, Tyer said, and to "make Pittsfield a destination where outdoor recreation meets arts and and culture."

"We have an opportunity to elevate outdoor recreation here in Pittsfield," she said.

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To support the expanded festival, Mill Town Capital contributed $6,000 for the event, which largely covers the price tag. Greylock Federal Credit Union is also an underwriter, officials said.

Jim McGrath, the city's park and open space program manager, said that by bolstering outdoor recreation in the Berkshires, the city seeks to thrive both socially and economically.

"We recognize that outdoor recreation supports healthy lifestyles, contributes to a high quality of life for our residents and, perhaps most importantly, attracts and sustains employers and families," he said.

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He said the city's push to include outdoor fun on this year's 10x10 calendar also resolves a longtime yearning to restore the city's winter carnival, which fizzled several years ago after its volunteer network fell apart.

Becky Cushing, director of Mass Audubon Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries, gestured behind her at the 250 acres of trails to explore at Canoe Meadows, where golden fields shone in the afternoon sun. Scenes like these show why the Berkshires are perfectly positioned to meet the demands of the outdoor recreation economy, she said.

"We know that spending time in nature is good for our health," she said. "We can feel it."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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