Call for Blogtoberfest Entries!

I always welcome guest posts at The Jump, but I take the collection thereof more seriously from October 1 to All Hallows Eve. The results have been varied and awesome, ranging in topic from witches to zombies to Neil Diamond.

Over the years, Blogtoberfest Guest Post submissions evolved into a full-on contest, with winners, prizes, and the bestowing of appropriate amounts of online glory.

Winners will be decided by readers via an online poll at the end of the month. There’s no length requirement or limit, and posts need not be spooky. October is also the month of harvest, baseball, and Breast Cancer Awareness. It may be that you or your organization has an annual event this month that deserves a little publicity. Whatever the topic – if it says October to you is fair game!

Prizes will be announced soon, and posts are accepted throughout the month, so get writing and send your entries to writerjax -at- gmail.com!

butterfly in net

A Whimsical Wonderland

Festival of Trees 2017

We’ve cultivated a bit of an annual family tradition taking in the Berkshires’ Festival of Trees. Every year, there’s a theme – this year’s was Whimsical, Wonderful and the entire exhibit was augmented by an accompanying fine art show of Morgan Bulkeley’s 1-,2-, and 3-D art.

Ten different rooms were filled with trees decorated by various area organizations and businesses. Some of the favorites are below, including Interprint’s tiny universe-in-a-tree-trunk, the tree-sized Grinch, a nod to the Berkshire’s literary history by Arrowhead (which includes Ilvermorny atop Mount Greylock), and a diorama of the solar system called Cosmos, made out of ball ornaments and sponsored by Berkshire County ARC and Zip N’ Sort.

Juli’s favorite was ‘the blue one–‘ actually a mermaid tree complete with tails poking out of the branches. We also played a little ‘I Spy,’ finding hidden objects in each tree as listed on our programs for the first time this year, like ‘a whisk’ or ‘a girl on a swing.’ There were both simple and harder objects to find, to cater to kids of all ages.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Truckin’ at Wahconah Park

With a Memorial Day forecast that left a lot to be desired, we didn’t have particularly high hopes for our outdoor-itinerary this weekend. But the clouds parted around lunchtime on Saturday, so we jetted down to historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. for their First Annual Food Truck Feastival and gathered some tastes, sights, and sounds to share.

There were a few familiar trucks on the grounds, but also some new trucks and a great breadth of choices, from Asian to Mexican to American and back again. Several musical acts were scheduled throughout the day — enough that we heard three different acts in a two-hour period — and plenty of arts, crafts, clothing, and vendors of other sundries that I think add to a food-truck fest as long as they don’t overtake the food.

I also really love this park. We’ve attended games and other events here before and it’s a family-friendly destination with a chill vibe and a lot of cool things to see and do, no matter what the occasion. It’s one of the last ballparks in the U.S with a wooden grandstand, more than 200 “Pittsfield Players” have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, and it’s surrounded by decidedly historic looking signage, service buildings, and snack stands.

On to the food, though: because she had a “big girl” breakfast and lunch, Juli was able to start off with a super-fancy French vanilla sundae from the Krispy Cones soft-serve truck.

image2

Kid ate just about the whole thing, then went on to share Ben’s hand-cut fries and pulled-pork sandwich from The Chuck Wagon.

image3

I went off in search of something new while they were noshing, and ordered some fried beef gyota from the aptly named Nom Nom Hut, and a local brew (“brown“) from Bright Ideas Brewing.

image6

Let me know if you hear of any food truck fests in New England this summer that we might want to hit up!

In Apple Blossom Time…

It’s Apple Blossom Time here in the Berkshires… not as well known as the harvest season, maybe, but no less quaint and New England-y.

18527695_10156103160423219_6029817147234561047_n

This weekend, we were able to attend the Second Annual Blossom Fest at Bartlett’s Orchard, right in our hometown. This isn’t an event teeming with crowds, vendors, bouncy-houses and beer tents — although there was, in fact, one beer tent — but rather, a gathering space that felt very community-minded, welcoming, and calm.

With the apple trees nearing full bloom, the orchard at Bartlett’s was opened to the public for strolling and picnicking. Burgers and dogs on the grill were offered up for a few dollars each, plus soft drinks and a few selections from Wandering Star Brewery – an awesome, local craft brewery with a great team of folks at the helm. I’ve seen its founder, Chris, a few times at nonprofit events and he’s not only always friendly, he’s always got a new IPA on tap for me (this time, an 8.9% ABV brew called Loopy Juice.)

18557532_10156103160513219_6690485462063262005_n

Local (and a little legendary) musician David Grover, with special guest Linda Worster, was on hand to provide chill tunes — a lot of James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and a few kids’ selections that Grover is known for in the Berkshires.

We’re hoping to attend the third Blossom Fest next year, but if you’re keen to visit Bartlett’s before then, apple-picking season starts as early as August and the farm store is open year-round. (Two words: cider donuts)