Fall in the Berkshires is a magical time of year and the people who live there know it. Cooler temperatures bring morning mists over the Pioneer Valley and transform the blue-green mountains into a patchwork of orange, red, and ochre. Farm stands overflow with the season's bounty — apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash — and day's waning light casts its golden glow across the landscape.
To celebrate all this, villages and towns hold fairs and festivals geared toward foodies, foliage fans, and jazz buffs, just to name a few. Look below to find the perfect festival (or two) for you.
37th Lenox Apple Squeeze,
Lenox, Sept. 24-25
Once again, the village of Lenox will host its annual fall Apple Squeeze, starring the crisp orchard fruit. Savor it pressed into hard and sweet cider and folded into apple-rich goodies, including flakey pies, dumplings, ice cream —
COUNTRY FAIR FANS
61st Fall Foliage Festival and Parade, North Adams, Sept. 23-Oct. 2
OK, who doesn't love a dog parade? See that, along with a children's parade, and craft fair. Then, woof and holler along the route of the grand Sunday afternoon parade, honoring the National Park Service's 100th birthday this year with its theme, "Salute to National Parks and Memorials," says Danielle Thomas, progam and event specialist at 1Berkshire. "There will be marching bands, cloggers, dance and Zumba performers, and lots of floats tapping into the theme and competing for prizes."
Country Fair, Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, Sept. 24-25
Come celebrate all things autumn at this old-time country fair held on the grounds of this living Shaker history museum. In addition to area-made crafts, ranging from furniture to soap, there will be live music, agricultural demonstrations, and local foods to enjoy, including cheeses, honey, maple syrup, beer and barbecue, plus snacks from food trucks. Kids will enjoy chicken races and horse-drawn wagon rides. Everyone can explore the property's buildings, visit the animals, and hike the Village's various trails. Attention quilt lovers — don't miss the Harvest of Quilts, a show of new and vintage quilts displayed in Hancock Shaker Village's Round Stone Barn, beginning Sept. 23 with special activities for quilt lovers that day.
Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival, Stockbridge, Oct. 8-9
Stop by the Berkshire Botanical Garden for their 82nd annual festival. Wee ones can hit the hay maze, haunted house, pumpkin toss and see sword performances and indulge in sand art, while adults can load up at the farmer's market, a giant tag sale, and area vendor booths, selling everything from barn brewed beer to homemade pottery. "And people always love the pumpkin contest," says Dana Audia, the festival's producer, "where they try to guess the weight of a huge pumpkin for a prize. Last year's pumpkin was 1,100 pounds!" All proceeds benefit the Garden's education program.
Fall into Chesterwood, Stockbridge, Oct. 8-9
This two-day festival takes place on the grounds of this historic country home that includes an art studio and gardens. Chesterwood once belonged to America's foremost public sculptor, Daniel Chester French, famous for his public memorials, such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Get ready for hot air balloon rides (weather permitting), along with a beer hall, live music, a pumpkin carving contest and apple pie bake-off.
Fallapalozza!, Bennington, Vt., Oct. 29
What began as a humble trick-or-treat event for children has grown into a huge festival, now entering its 5th year. "Last year we had over 1,000 guests from all over Massachusetts and upstate New York," says John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation. "We close down Main Street for the craft and food booths. There will be a farmer's market, rock climbing walls, and haunted shuttle bus rides." Children also can ride on a colorful trackless train and do store-to-store trick-or-treating for gifts, games, and, yes, plenty of candy.
Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016, Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Nov. 18-Dec. 31
Behold 100-plus twinkling trees at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, an ongoing tradition for more than 30 years. Each tree (artificial) is sponsored and decorated by local businesses, schools, and community organizations according to the chosen year's theme, which, this year is movies. "The trees are arranged throughout the second floor galleries," says Lesley Ann Beck, director of communications in an e-mail. "To add to the cinema theme, we are planning a mini screening room and will also have scenes from Hollywood that people can use as a background for their own photos. Berkshire Museum's Little Cinema will be screening special holiday films in conjunction with the Festival of Trees."
12th Annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, Pittsfield, Oct. 7-16 (daily)
Created to offer guests mainstream and traditional jazz in a downtown setting, this festival will host such performers as the Scott Robinson Quartet (10/14) and The Karrin Allyson Trio with the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors big band (10/15). In addition to a jazz prodigy concert (10/13), there will be a Jazz Crawl over Columbus Day weekend (10/7-8) . "It's like a pub crawl in that there will be anywhere from five to eight downtown bars, restaurants, and lounges hosting local jazz musicians throughout the evening," says Edward Bride, president of the nonprofit Berkshires Jazz Inc. "While some events are ticketed, most are free for the entire 10 days," he adds.
Victoria Abbott Riccardi can be reached at email@example.com.