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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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)

Writing on the Flip

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Writers have come a long way in terms of where their words can be seen. Once relegated to the printed page, now we’re writing for virtual places all the time.

That’s what made a recent — and very tactile — writing assignment so unusual and fun. I was charged with writing a few highlights regarding the Berkshire town of Lenox, which were then placed on the literal flip side of some photo placards.

The placards are just one part of the newly redesigned Lenox Visitors Center, meant to offer information and inspiration to residents, tourists, and business people alike.

A handful of writers contributed to the project; below are a few of the snippets I was able to sneak through.

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Placard Photos by Ed Acker.