Your Advocate Guide to the Pioneer Valley in the Fall

For many New Englanders, fall is a special time that people living in the sun year-round don’t get to experience. The air gets crisp; the leaves blaze bright orange, yellow, and red; apples reach their peak of juicy, crunchy goodness; the smell of harvest is all around; and people are busy enjoying the perfect weather and preparing for the winter hibernation. Fall is for New Englanders, we know how to revel in the season, but in case you were wondering about times, dates, and odd ball to-dos, check out this list of fall fun in the Valley.

— Kristin Palpini,  editor@valleyadvocate.com

FAMILY

By Dave Eisenstadter

Fall time is family time. There’s nothing like the days growing shorter and darker to make you appreciate how little time we all have on this Earth and that we’d better make the most of it! So get out there with the kids and pick some apples, ride on the tractor wagon, and enjoy the fruits of the harvest. And as you reap the season’s bounty, remember that the Reaper isn’t far behind.

Apple and Pumpkin Picking

There are a huge number of farms and orchards where you and your family can get down to pickin’. Where you go depends on where you are. A sampling in Franklin County are Apex Orchards in Shelburne, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, New Salem Preserves in New Salem, Pine Hill Orchards of Colrain, Quonquont Farm in Whately, and Wilder Hill Gardens in Conway. Hampshire County has among its farms Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, Bashista Orchards in Southampton, Dickinson Farm and Greenhouse in Granby, Kielbasa Orchards in Hadley, Outlook Farm in Westhampton, Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Sentinel Farm in Belchertown, and Small Ones Farm in Amherst. Down in Hampden the options include Echo Hill Orchards and Winery in Monson, Cook’s Farm Orchard in Brimfield, and Kosinski Farms in Westfield.

Take in a Tractor Parade // Oct. 14

The Harvest Moon Pumpkin Festival at the North Hadley Sugar Shack shows that there’s much more to the shack than the spring harvest. On Oct. 14 at 2 p.m., there will be a huge number of tractors pulling wagons of people around North Hadley. Owners encourage locals to BYOT, bring their own tractors and wagons. The results are typically impressive. The tractor parade, festival admission, and parking are all free, though there will be raffles at the festival supporting the fight against juvenile diabetes and breast cancer. There’s also a balloon clown, pumpkin painting, face painting, animals, foods like caramel apples and maple kettle corn, and a magician. The festival lasts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. northhadleysugarshack.com.

Welcome to Earth

How vast is our Universe? Are we alone? And how do we get out of this corn maze? Those are questions you might ask yourself while wandering around in Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm in Sunderland this year, with the theme of “Greetings from Earth.” The maze, a nearly 20-year tradition, has taken the form this year of a post card that reads “Greetings from Earth, the Pale Blue Dot” with images of a rocket blasting off, a flying saucer shining a light on a house, a scene from a city, a desert, and a beach. Inside the maze, visitors can find habitable exoplanets and try to guess answers to questions about scientific research into extraterrestrial life. Outside, the farm’s jump pad has become a moon-walk station, the slides are black hole themed, the pedal carts orbit the tracks, and the potato cannons have been renamed “Spudnik Blasters.” $11-$14. mikesmaze.com.

The Royal Frog Ballet Surrealist Cabaret // October

Need we say more? Probably, yes. Founded in Amherst 10 years ago, the Royal Frog Ballet grew out of a group of friends who wanted an outlet for their artistic endeavors. Every year, there is a theme, like “hope and joy,” which was last year’s theme. Now in Easthampton at the Park Hill Orchard for the second year, the theme will be “at the root.” The shows start at 5 p.m. and consists of several mini-acts that the 250-person audiences walk through. Some are dances, some are physical art pieces, some are stories, and some defy labels, such as a display of artists whipping a quilted parachute up and down in delight. One collaborator, Sophie Wood, of Washington, Vermont, for last year’s cabaret wanted to embody the phrase “dance like no one is watching,” and so constructed a golden costume that covered every part of her, shielding her from view as she danced. The show is not explicitly a children’s show, but many children embrace the absurdity, darkness, and magic of the art pieces. The audience is encouraged to dress warmly and be prepared to walk. This year’s shows will be Oct. 13-15, and 20-22. Tickets tend to sell out. $9-$18. theroyalfrogballet.com.

… And For Those Gray Days

But what if it’s a cold and crappy day and you don’t want to go outside? Springfield’s Bounce! Trampoline Sports might be the answer, with its slam dunk basketball, dodgeball, foam pit, and even special jump time for toddlers. bouncespringfield.com. Or check out the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, the historic 1929 carousel at Holyoke Heritage State Park. holyokemerrygoround.org. Interskate 91 in Hadley and Wilbraham are great places to get moving indoors, and with laser tag to boot. interskate91.com. Painting with a Twist in East Longmeadow offers an artistic outlet on a drab day, and is that rare family friendly activity: an art class that is also BYOB. paintingwithatwist.com. There’s also a wide range of museums to check out, including the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst carlemuseum.org and, of course, the Springfield Museums and Doctor Seuss National Memorial. springfieldmuseums.org.

OUTDOORS

By Dave Eisenstadter

There’s something delightful about a day outside in the fall. The crunch of the leaves beneath your feet, the cool, crisp air, and the slow, wondrous realization that bugs that plagued you all summer are either dead or dying. In the Pioneer Valley, opportunities for outdoor fun abound in the fall. Here are a few …

Take a Hike, Bub

While summer hike destinations may be a hidden swimming hole, the fall is all about elevation and getting to see some of that color. In terms of bang for your step, Mount Pollux Conservation Area in Amherst, run by the Kestrel Land Trust, offers a great view for a very manageable 0.2 mile walk. At its 350-foot peak are 360 degree views of the Mount Holyoke Range to the south, the Berkshires to the west and Mount Toby and Brushy Mountain to the north. Mount Tom in Easthampton and Holyoke has a robust trail network for those who want a longer hike. Its peak is a respectable (for the Pioneer Valley) height of about 1,200 feet and great views of the Connecticut River Valley. You want a really long hike? Try the 110-mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail traveling through the entire Pioneer Valley, with end points at the Connecticut/Massachusetts border and southern New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock.

Poet’s Eye View

In his poem “To Autumn,” John Keats dubbed fall the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” You, too, can come up with apt descriptions and metophors for the season as you survey Greenfield atop Poet’s Seat, a stone tower that stands proudly above the town. The tower is named for 19th century poet Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, who was inspired to write by the view from the tower.

Head On Over to Charlemont

There’s only 1,300 residents in Charlemont, so that leaves plenty of room for outdoor recreation. Zoar Outdoor, Berkshire East Mountain Resort, and Crab Apple Whitewater all call this community home, meaning there’s activities including rafting, zip line, biking, canoeing, rock climbing, and kayaking in the Deerfield River.

Race Ya!

With the heat of summer past, running races starts to look a little less foreboding and there are lots to choose from in the Valley. A few are The Fall Foliage 5K in Amherst on Oct. 14, The Happy Valley Half Marathon in Northampton on Oct. 22, the Clarkdale Cider Run 12K race on Nov. 12, in Deerfield, the Wilbraham Turkey Trot 5 mile on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23), and Northampton’s Hot Chocolate Run 5K on Dec. 3.

Looky, Looky

Picnic sites, playgrounds, pedal boats — Look Park in Northampton has these, and other activities that don’t start with the letter “P.” One thing that deters some (and does start with “P”) is the price, but it goes way down in the fall, from $9 on weekends in the summer to $5 in the fall. Word to the wise: If you’re going to get a year-pass, do it right about now. If you buy it on the first day it’s available, Oct. 16, it’s good through Dec. 31, 2018 — almost 15 months!

Food

By Dave Eisenstadter

Fall is the harvest time, and that means more farm fresh food for you! Not to mention cider, cider donuts, and the ubiquitous pumpkin spice.

A Multitude of Markets

Farmers markets abound in the region at this time of year, with the summer markets extending through early fall, and the winter markets picking up the slack soon thereafter. No need to miss out during the colder months of late fall and even winter. Amherst’s Saturday farmers market on the common runs through Nov. 18, with the winter market starting up on Dec. 3, at the Amherst Regional Middle School. Northampton’s two farmers markets — Saturday downtown and Tuesday behind Thornes — run through Nov. 11 and Nov. 7, respectively. On Saturday, Nov. 19, the city’s winter’s farmers market starts up at Smith Voc. Greenfield’s Saturday and Tuesday markets (at the town common and behind the Greenfield Co-op) run through the end of October, and the Saturday winter farmers market begins Nov. 5, at the Four Corners School. Springfield has four farmers’ markets (Saturdays at 700 State St., Wednesdays at the Evangelical Covenant Church, Wednesdays at Springfield Technical Community College, and Fridays at Tower Square Park) that extend into early fall (or December in the case of the one at STCC), and one winter market at the Old Monkey House in Forest Park in November and December. Westfield, and Wilbraham all have winter farmer’s markets. Up and down the Valley, Belchertown, Shutesbury, Forence, South Hadley, Easthampton, Holyoke, Wendell, Ware, Turners Falls, Spencer, Ashfield, Orange, Shelberne Falls, and Westfield have markets running through early fall. Plenty of squash for all!

Cider, Cider, Everywhere

What happens when you mix northern Pioneer Valley farmers and one of the most dynamic fruits around — Franklin County Cider Days! For the 23rd year, orchards and venues in Ashfield, Deerfield, Turners Falls, Charlemont, Colrain, and Greenfield will celebrate all things apple and cider. Events include an amateur cider competition for anyone 21-and-older, tastings throughout the weekend, a Friday night lesson on how to taste hard cider, a workshop on how to get started producing cider, and the New Salem Preserves and Orchards Cider and Apple Festival.

A Sacred Donut Tradition

And speaking of cider, the fall is also the prime time to pick up some cider donuts at Atkins Farms in Amherst. Grabbing donuts at Atkins is a tradition for longtime Valley residents and student visitors alike. While you’re there, pick some apples if it’s the weekend and the season, and why not grab some ice cream, too!

They’ve Got The Chops

For the meat-lovers out there, fall means the knockwurst and brattwurst of Octoberfests, sausages and steaks and tailgate parties, and of course turkey at Thanksgiving. Arnold’s Meats in Chicopee specializes in all those things, including a 5-pound kielbasa specially suited for tailgate football parties. During Thanksgiving, Arnolds goes through “thousands and thousands of pounds of turkeys” each week, according to owner Larry Katz. They also have game sausage, rabbit, venison, and bison around this time of year. But if you’re looking for turducken, you’re out of luck. Also check out local flesh at Sutter Meats in Northampton and Pekarski’s in Sunderland.

Pumpkin Spice (in moderation)

Let’s admit it. We’re not immune to pumpkin spice mania in Western Mass. But let us warn you: There’s good and there’s really bad when it comes to this fall flavor staple. Woodstar Cafe won last year’s Valley Advocate pumpkin spice taste-off with their pumpkin spice macaroons, with an honorable mention to GoBerry’s pumpkin spice fro-yo. Steer clear of the Nutri-grain pumpkin spice bar and the Russell Stover pumpkin spice latte candy bar.

Events

By Kristin Palpini

With so many options, it wasn’t easy to pick just five fall events to highlight, but I feel like if you hit all of these you win the season.

Ye Olde Craft Fair // Nov. 18-19

Get your New England nostalgia tuned up for the holiday season — and maybe buy a few gifts — at the annual Old Deerfield Holiday Craft Fair, Nov. 18 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and 19 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Held at the Eastern States Exposition, the fair will feature fine art, clothing, glass, pottery, woodworking, jewelry, handmade toys, live music, and food. More than 200 artisans will exhibit. $8, kids under 12 admitted for free. Eastern States Exposition, Better Living Center, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. (413) 774-7476, ext. 18. deerfield-craft.org.

A Mosaic of Jack o’Lanterns // Oct. 14

Hosted by the groovy Three Sisters Sanctuary, Punkedellic is a celebration of art and the harvest. The sanctuary lights all six of its fire pits — including a 20-foot stone and mosaic dragon — setting the elaborately decorated outdoor arts venue on sparkle. There will be carving stations for people to create their own jack o’lanterns and at the end of the night, they will all be illuminated. Bring a warm coat, and dress up in a costume if you like. This is a family-friendly event; kids are free, adults are $10. Bring your own food and drinks. Saturday, Oct. 14, 6-10 p.m. Three Sisters Sanctuary, 188 Cape St., Goshen. (413) 268-9284. threesisterssanctuary.com.

A Ball for Witch-ay Women and Men

The Western Mass Witches Ball is a formal witching event. This year’s theme is “conjure your future” and it promises to be a “magickal” evening of feasting and frolicking witch-style with music, dancing, food, readings, a silent auction, costumes, and ritual. This event is for pagans and witches of all paths and their open-minded friends and supporters — and there’s one wicked dress code. This is FANCY. Knee-length dresses are permitted only as part of masquerade attire; otherwise dresses must be tea or floor length. Those who don’t want to dress in costume or creative black tie should dress in formal pomp. Get your freak on for Samhain (the celebration of winter). Western Mass Witches’ Ball, Friday, Oct. 27. Union Station Ballroom, 125 Pleasant St., Northampton.

Losing Your Head in Sturbridge

Headless horsemen and tortured souls rising from the grave are just some of the madness you can expect from Old Sturbridge Village’s Sleepy Hollow Experience. Based on the classic tale of a rider with no head, searching for a replacement dome by lopping off the tops of others, guests are ghoulishly guided through the Village’s countryside where they will encounter our hero(?) Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones, and maybe the Headless Horseman. Each performance is about an hour-and-a-half long and requires walking — rain or shine. (Rain moves the show inside.) Go and visit, if you dare, through Oct. 29. Wednesday through Sunday, 7:30 p.m. $30-$35. (800) 733-1830.

Open Artist Studios

Open studios are excellent, inspiring events in which artists welcome people into their studios for shows, demos, and to sell their work. Often you can buy seconds at open studios (artwork that didn’t quite pass the final quality test) at a discount. Meet the artists, check out their work, and support the arts.

North Adams: Oct. 14-15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Eclipse Mill Artist Lofts, 243 Union St., North Adams.

Eastworks Open Studios: Nov. 4-5. Eastworks, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton. (413) 527-1000. Eastworks.com.

Crafts of Colrain Open Studio Tour: Nov. 11-12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 18 artisans will open their doors to visitors on this self-guided tour around Colrain. The information point is Pine Hill Orchards, 248 Greenfield Road, Colrain, but you can see a map of the other locations at craftsofcolrain.com. limuw@aol.com.

The Artists at Indian Orchard Mills: Nov. 11-12, Noon to 4 p.m. 50-plus artists. Indian Orchard Mills, 34 Front St., Indian Orchard, Springfield. (413) 543-3321.

Art + Industries: Nov. 12-13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 50-plus artists and craftspeople. Arts & Industries Building, 221 Pine St., Florence.

Cottage Street Studios: Dec. 1-3 and 9, noon to 5 p.m., except on Dec. 2 and 9, when it’s 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cottage Street Studios, Cottage Street, Easthampton. (413) 658-8406. info@cottagestreetstudios.com.

Halloween

By Chris Goudreau

Ghouls and ghosts be warned, you will be thrilled, frightened, and amused as you enter into haunted houses that will make your goosebumps take flight. You can indulge in horrifically wonderful cinema, take a spooky ride amongst the hay and crawl with zombies for a quick pint of brew. And, of course, you can indulge in decadent sweets on your trick or treating adventures this All Hallow’s Eve that will leave you with a queasy feeling and … cavities! Mwahahahahahaha!!!

Haunted Houses Galore

One of the foremost horror houses in Western Massachusetts is DementedFX at 530 Main St., Holyoke, a haunted house so artisanal in its gruesome design that the experience has been compared to being in a horror movie. Be ready for buckets of fake blood and monsters galore. DementedFX’s theme this year is “Biomed Corp.”, which conjures imagery of a secret zombie lab outbreak and Cronenberg zombie abominations running amok. There’s not much information about what will await you if you decide to take a tour through DementedFX’s haunted house, but it’s sure not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.

This year’s Fright Fest at Six Flags New is filled to the brim with haunted attractions, including haunted mazes like Slasher Circus 3D, a fun house from hell, Wicked Woods, and a run for your life, hunt or be hunted, zombie’s revenge. Six Flags also has it’s own districts such as Undead Alley, the Western horror-styled Tombstone TerrorTory, Demon District, CarnEvil, home of evil carnies, and Main Street Graveyard. You can also find horror-themed rides, live entertainment, and rollercoasters through October that will send a chill down your spine.

Late-Night Scary Movies

Every Friday night during the month of October you can catch a late-night horror films at Amherst Cinema whether that’s your standard slasher-kills-teenagers flick or a sci-fi-horror-comedy. First up is Suspiria on Oct. 6, a 1977 Italian horror movie about a young American student who arrives at a German dance academy before being thrown into nightmarish witchcraft and murder with an hallucinatory bent.

Then on Oct. 13, it’s a double feature of Jason Voorhees slashing his way through Friday the 13th Part 2 and the Final Chapter, (which really wasn’t the final movie). On Oct. 20 is a screening of 1985 classic horror-comedy, Re-Animator, which is an adaptation of a story by H.P. Lovecraft that’s described as “Frankenstein meets Revenge of the Nerds.” Amherst Cinema’s late-night horror series closes with George A. Romero’s 1968 black and white classic that re-invented zombie horror — Night of the Living Dead. Amherst Cinema will screen a new 4K-restoration scanned from the original camera negative and supervised by Romero. The film follows a group of people in rural Pennsylvania who bunker down together in a farmhouse in the hopes of surviving against the endless wave of dead corpses now roaming the Earth. All of the films in the series will start at 9:45 p.m. Admission is $6.75-$9.25.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Monuments, crypts, and grave markers that date back to the 19th century or earlier are some of the sights you’ll see on guided tours through some of the Pioneer Valley’s oldest cemeteries. The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts a walk through Forestdale Cemetery on Oct. 21, 6-7 p.m., with city historian Penni Martorell. Learn about Holyoke’s founding families and all you could ever want to know about death in the 19th century.

In Historic Deerfield, take a guided tour of the Old Burying Ground on Albany Road on Oct. 14, where you can explore Deerfield’s archeological treasures or dig deeper into Longmeadow’s history with the Ghosts in the Graveyard tours in Longmeadow Cemetery on Oct. 20, hosted by the Longmeadow Historical Society.

Zombies on a Crawling Quest for Beer

Northampton’s annual zombie pub crawl is wonderfully simple: zombies on the hunt for booze, not brains. The army of the undead will swarm the streets of Northampton on Oct. 21, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., shambling from pub to bar to anywhere in the city that serves beer to zombies. Then the undead will perform a loving tribute to Michael Jackson “Thriller” with a flash mob at 9 p.m. at Pulaski Park on Main Street.

The pub crawl starts at 6 p.m. at Sam’s Pizza, before heading to Packard’s, the Toasted Owl, Fitzwilly’s, Platform Sports Bar, McLadden’s Irish Pub, Hugo’s, and ending with a zombie dance party at the World War II Club (The Deuce) on Conz Street, from midnight until 2 a.m.

Trick or Treating and Other Things that are Non-Scary

Whether you just want to find fun spots to take kids trick-or-treating or are more inclined to do non-scary Halloween-themed nights out, there’s plenty to do in the Pioneer Valley and beyond that won’t leave you petrified.

Imagine being a kid and having almost an entire mall giving away free candy! That sounds like a gold mine for those with a sweet tooth gathering a dragon’s hoard of candy. The Holyoke Mall at Ingleside hosts it’s annual Halloween Mall-O-Ween on Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m., just look for the “Trick or Treat Here” signs as you ramble from storefront to storefront. A costume contest will also take place in Cafe Square, with registration required before 5:30 p.m.

The New England Center for Circus Arts hosts it’s Flight Night: Fright Night on Oct. 27, 6 p.m., 10 Town Crier Dr. in Brattleboro. It’s a Halloween-themed night where you can take a swing or two on the flying trapeze dressed as a cantaloupe or a banana, if you prefer.

Be a Western Mass Tourist

By Chris Goudreau

If you’re used to hearing about the everyday tourist spots in the Pioneer Valley, odds are you might take them for granted. From smelling all the scented candles at Yankee Candle to watching the foliage along the Mohawk Trail, or catching a dog show at the Eastern States Exposition, these iconic tourist spots are, whether you take them or leave them, Western Massachusetts shining beacons of touristy goodness.

Welcome … to Jurassic Tracks

A small group of dinosaurs wandered on the shore of a shallow tropical lake in what is now Holyoke, leaving behind their fossilized footprints. Now, 190 million years later, more than 130 tracks remain on the slabs of sandstones connecting the present with a bygone prehistoric age.

The Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke are open April 1 to Nov. 30 from sunrise to sunset, where visitors can examine the prints left by small groups of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs believed to have grown up to 15-inches-tall when the Connecticut River Valley, along Route 5, was a prehistoric swamp.

Holyoke isn’t the only place you can find dinosaur tracks in the area. In fact, the entire region is rich with paleontological treasures. In Granby, the Nash Dinosaur Track Site and Rock Shop (formerly Nash Dinosaurland), 39 Aldrich St., has been a site that’s produced thousands of dinosaur tracks, some of which have been displayed in museums across the world after the pit was discovered in 1933 and bought by Carlton Nash in 1939. The on-site museum displays a variety of dinosaur tracks and fossils, but also includes a rock shop where you can purchase your own dino tracks, fossils or minerals.

See Emily Play and Dr. Giesel Beguile

Many people in Western Massachusetts know that Emily Dickinson is from Amherst. It’s as commonplace as knowing that Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel, is from Springfield. Our local cultural celebrities have museums dedicated to their lives and work that aren’t just touristy, but downright awesome.

In Amherst, 280 Main St., is home to the Emily Dickinson Museum, which not only includes historical memorabilia and artifacts from Dickinson’s life, but it’s also the place of her birth. The museum was created in 2003 and merged two 19th century homes under one roof to celebrate Dickinson’s life, family, creative works, and to preserve her Homestead.

The Springfield Museums opened up the Amazing World of Dr. Suess Museum this year, which is an explosion of color complete with life-sized replicas of favorite Seussian characters such as Horton and the Cat in the Hat, and there are cartoony illustrations adorning almost every inch of space in the museum’s first floor. The second floor was curated by Geisel’s two step-daughters and great nephew to look like his studio and living space complete with the furniture and art materials that he actually used. There’s never-before-publicly-displayed artwork, family photos, letters, and you can even find “Theophrastus,” a toy stuffed dog Geisel’s mother gave to him when he was a boy growing up in Springfield.

Fall Foliage for All

There’s plenty of people in the world who have never experienced a New England autumnal landscape with it’s vibrant orange, reds, and yellows.

One of the most obvious choice to enjoy the fall foliage is taking a drive or a bike ride down the Mohawk Trail, which spans 69-miles and passes through idyllic and bucolic towns like Florida, Orange, Erving, and Gill, all the way to North Adams in the Berkshires. Embrace the chilly fall air and the crisp brisk breeze as a kaleidoscopic tide of leaves are swept up in a whirlwind and trees rustle in a wave.

Another great spot in Western Massachusetts to enjoy the foliage is the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, the boyhood home and late summer residence of the famous 19th century romantic poet and newspaper editor, with its 150-foot evergreens and deep red sugar maples. The Peaked Mountain in Monson, which sports a panoramic view from Mount Wachusett to Vermont’s Green Mountains, is good, too.

Smell the Roses … er, Rose-Scented Candles

Yankee Candle in South Deerfield is a New England institution and the only place in the Pioneer Valley where you can smell scented-candles ranging from Bahama Breeze to Cozy by the Fire or Cranberry Chutney, till your heart’s content.

One of the most popular exhibits is Wax Works, an interactive family-friendly activity center known for candle dipping. You can make your own jar candles choosing from a selection of different scents to create a personalized candle that burns for 35 hours.

While not exactly in the fall spirit, Yankee Candle also has an old-school German-style village where it’s Christmas every day of the year even on a mild-October day. Every year, Santa Claus even comes to Yankee Candle Village via helicopter to the thrill and cheers of crowds of more than 2,000 people that have attended the event in the past. There’s even a Nutcracker Castle complete with a moat for a passersby to throw in a coin and make a wish.

Welcome to the Year-Round  Exposition

When you hear about the Eastern States Exposition, your mind probably jumps right to the “Big E” in all its decadent fried-butter on a stick and Mardi Gras parade glory, but just because the fair isn’t happening doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on at the fairgrounds in West Springfield.

From dog shows and horse shows to classic car conventions and other events, it’s not just in the fall that you’ll find attractions at the Eastern States Exposition.

A quick glance on the Eastern States Exposition’s website shows everything from livestock exhibits of dairy goats, sheep dog trials, cheese and wine competitions, the Massachusetts Maple Syrup Cooking Competition, and much more. Table & Vine, the giant liquor store on Route 5 in West Springfield, is kicking up its regular Saturday tastings on Oct. 21 when the store will put on a full tasting fest at the Eastern States Exposition.

The Rest …

By Kristin Palpini

A few things you should do this fall that we didn’t have time to fit anywhere else in this guide.

And Still She Preserved

With your garden bounty harvested, and piles of extra apples, squash, green beans, and tomatoes all over the place, you may want to think about preserving your produce. Preserving is a gnarly, time-consuming, and deliciously rewarding process that takes a lot of sterilizing, cutting, timing, and patience. If these are not things you’re into, but you still want to enjoy fresh preserves, farm and country markets will sell them. Check Atkins in Amherst, Gooseberry in West Springfield, Outlook in Westhampton (while you’re there you can order the best egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich anywhere — the eye opener), Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Red Fire in Granby, or Randall’s in Ludlow.

Bike It

The area is home to an expansive, though not always connected, network of bicycle trails. And we’re not talking about some bike lanes painted on the side of the road; these paths run through pastoral fields, quiet wooded areas, and along the Connecticut River — as well as behind a whole lot of homes. Not sure where to go, how about …

Northampton, Easthampton, Southampton: The 6-mile Manhan Rail Trail and the 11-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail. Entry points to the trail abound and include Grove Avenue, Look Park, Chestnut Street, King Street, and Pleasant Street in Northampton; Ferry Street, Union Street, and South Street in Easthampton; and Coleman Road in Southampton.

The 6-plus mile Southwick Rail Trail stretches from the Westfield City line all the way into Connecticut. You can access it most easily at the Miller Street trail access parking. Lots of beautiful ponds to pass on this one.

In Westfield there’s the 2-mile Columbia Greenway Rail Trail which picks up where the Soutwick trail ends. Hop on at the Shaker Road crossing where there is also parking nearby.

Springfield has a gem of a bike path along the Connecticut River. The 3.7 mile path starts at the Northern entrance at Riverside Pond and Watson Avenue. There are entrances at West Street (Route 20), the Riverfront Park, and the Basketball Hall of Fame. It ends at the South End Bridge.

And in Agawam’s Robinson State Park there is a 1.7 mile mountain bike trail.

Elevate Your Culture Cred // Oct. 13

Heavy weights in the art world will be in Easthampton Friday, Oct. 13, for Easthampton City Arts’ Grist for the Mill series. This panel of contemporary visual artists will include Joan Young, the director of curatorial affairs at the Guggenheim Museum; Tom Friedman, an internationally recognized conceptual Easthampton artist; Kambui Olujimi, an interdisciplinary artist exhibiting at MASS MoCA; and Eva Fierst, curator of education at the UMass Museum of Contemporary Art. Discussion will focus on the evolving work and identity of artists and art institutions in an ever evolving environment — be it politcally, morally, or visually. Grist for the Mill goes down Friday, Oct. 13, 8-9:30 p.m. $8-$25. Eastworks, West End Event Space, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton.

This Milkshake Will Bring All the Boys to the Pitts

Pittsfield is looking to grow its LGBTQAI scene and there’s no better blazingly, bright beacon of come hither m’babes than a drag show … or three. Pittsfield Pride Drag Show, hosted by Weekend Warriors Entertainment, will feature a three-act show starring Harmony Chanel Diamond, Gemini DaBarbay, Millennial, Angel South, and Mikey Flexx. Music will be provided by DJ Snake413. $7. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tavern at the A, 303 Crane Ave., Pittsfield.

Indeed, It’s Time for Weed

To all the 21-plus people out there: It’s legal now. So, if you’ve got some nugs and some free time, take a walk, see the leaves, fill your lungs with fresh and dank air.

Vote

Local elections will come to a head in communities across Western Mass this fall. Be heard, make a difference, and vote.

Author: Advocate Staff

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