Autumn is Awesome

By Telly Halkias

New England can put its fall foliage season up against any other region in North America and hold its own. Likewise, in a much smaller sampling of the region, the Berkshires and Southern Vermont yield brilliant colors that attract tens of thousands of visitors each fall from across the nation and overseas.

But there’s more in the region during September and October than those varied tones of red, orange and brown. A drive up and down and around Route 7 shows that local denizens not only know how to celebrate fall, but also how to be great hosts with a variety of seasonal celebrations made for cooler weather and a backdrop of brilliant colors. More importantly, from the outdoors to the indoors, fall foliage season promises something for everyone.

Here are 10 great things to do this fall in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont.

Lee Founders Weekend Celebration

Lee, Mass. September 15-17

A dancer in the group Tambores Latinos performs during the Lee Founders Day Parade in Lee, Mass. Photo: Stephanie Zollshan

This event is typically the kickoff for all of the area’s fall foliage events, and enhances its popularity. This is a weekend of fun for everyone: food, music, and many other activities that include the annual parade, arts and crafts vendors, a duck derby, a vintage tennis tournament, a road race, sidewalk sales and more. The weekend-long festival kicks off on Friday night with a Taste of Lee, with local restaurants offering specials and vendors.

The parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday, with fireworks that night visible from all over town.

Events throughout the weekend at varying times. Information: 413-243-1705, leechamber.org

Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival

Wilmington, Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. September 22-24

With Vermont’s Deerfield Valley as the backdrop of the state’s world-renowned fall foliage, the Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival offers up local vintners, specialty food producers, chefs, painters, publishers, cheesemakers, potters, jewelers, photographers and farmers. Friday marks the Village Wine Tasting Stroll & Soup Contest, in Wilmington, from 5 to 7 p.m. On Saturday, the Wine & Harvest Festival proper takes place at Mount Snow and in West Dover, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sunday, the Vermont Wildlife Festival, with live animal exhibits, interactive displays, animal educators, and over 20 additional booths, takes place at Mount Snow, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

Information: 802-464-8092, thevermontfestival.com

Lenox Apple Squeeze

Lenox, Mass. September 23-24

The annual Lenox Apple Squeeze is one of Berkshire County’s long-standing traditions, welcoming fall and all its colors to the area. A free street festival celebrates the apple harvest with local shops, restaurants, artisans, musicians, farm stands, and a variety of arts and music performers welcoming the entire family. Three stages will be set up around two popular local bands and live music. Both days are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Information: 413-637-3646, lenox.org

Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival

Manchester, Vt. September 29 to October 1

Come to this quaint, historic town for the annual Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival. Here, visitors can find handcrafted creations made by expert artists and artisans, and meet the actual makers who are plying their wares. The festival also includes a specialty foods and spirits tent, with producers of Vermont products including maple syrup, craft distilled spirits, and other gourmet items. Find wine, beer, and great food to eat, as well as live music and other entertainment. All three days are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Riley Rink at Hunter Park. Information: 802-425-3399, manchestervermont.com

Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival and Parade

North Adams, Mass. October 1

Since 1955, North Adams has held a week of events that highlight the spectacular fall colors. Complete with a children’s fair, road race, craft fair and performances, the Fall Foliage Festival is described by locals as “fall family fun.” The festival’s highlight is the 62nd annual Fall Foliage Parade on Sunday, Oct. 1, stepping off at 1 p.m. from the Ocean State Job Lot parking lot on Route 8 traveling through downtown North Adams. Other events held various days and times. Information: 413-664-6180, explorenorthadams.com, 1berkshire.com/calendar/fall-foliage-parade/

Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival

Stockbridge, Mass. October 7-8

One of the longest running regional events of its kind, the festival offers family fun, great food, local craft vendors, a farmers market, haunted house, giant tag sales and so much more. The Harvest Festival is held on the grounds of the Berkshire Botanical Garden and all proceeds (adults are $7, kids go free) go to benefit the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s education program. Both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information: 413-298-3926, berkshirebotanical.org


Adams, Mass. October 8

Party on Sunday. Hike on Monday. A relatively new event, RambleFest, is a warm-up to the Mount Greylock Ramble. A street fair celebrating the annual Columbus Day hike up the state’s highest peak, visitors are encouraged to join in on the festivities which include a half-marathon/ 8K, live bands, food vendors, locally brewed craft beers, a cornhole tournament, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities and a campfire. All activities, except for the race, take place at the Adams Visitors Center from noon to 5 p.m. Information: exploreadams.com/play/ramblefest

50th Annual Mount Greylock Ramble

Adams, Mass. October 9

Mount Greylock Ramble participants rest at the mountain’s summit. Photo: Gillian Jones.

Join the town of Adams, Mass. as it celebrates the fall foliage with a hike to the top of the state’s highest peak from the base of the Cheshire Harbor Trail on West Mountain Road. Reaching the summit at 3,491 feet is the goal for thousands of hikers who take to the trail each Columbus Day. The trek is 6.6 miles round trip and can take four to five hours. Shuttles from the Adams Visitors Center at 3 Hoosac St. to the trailhead are recommended as parking is limited. Shuttles run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mount Greylock is the home of J.K. Rowling’s fictional Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft & Wizardry and has inspired many other authors, including Herman Melville and Henry David Thoreau. From the summit you can get panoramas of five states. Information: exploreadams.com

7th Annual NorShaft Lions Oktoberfest

Bennington, Vt. October 14

Revelers ride past the Bennington Battle Monument at the NorShaft Lions Oktoberfest in Bennington, Vt. Photo: Gillian Jones.

October is here and it’s time for Oktoberfest. Treat yourself to the wonderful taste of bratwurst, knockwurst, wiener schnitzel, golabki (stuffed cabbage), pierogies, and other great tasting German, Austrian and Polish foods along with specialty Bavarian and Viennese lagers, craft beers and delicious wines.

Enjoy this fun-filled fall family day with dancing to the toe-tapping music provided by the Rymanowski Brothers, described as the longest running polka band in New York’s Capital Region, will play selections of traditional polka songs. There will be art and craft vendors offering Vermont products, and children’s activities including hayrides and face-painting. The festivities will take place from 10 to 5 p.m. at Colgate Park on Vermont Route 9 West. Information: facebook.com/BenningtonOktoberfest/

Independent Television Festival

Manchester, Vt. October 11 – 15

A fan of independent television? ITVFest, a worldwide community of television creators, executives, agents and fans comes together in Manchester for a week-long fall festival featuring screenings of independent and non-network television shows, as well as panel discussions featuring experts from across the industry.

If you enjoy film festivals, arts festivals and seeing the world’s best creative talent, there’s no other place the public can watch all these new shows and have such easy access to meet creators – as well as meeting all the industry executives too. ITVFest is open to the public, but passes are required to attend one of the many events and screenings.

Information: Find a full schedule at itvfest.com/ or email: festival@itvfest.com

Nor what you’re looking for? There are many more hyperlocal and smaller events that you’re sure to stumble upon as you drive through the Berkshires and Southern Vermont.

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