Editorial: This month, last year

  • Balloons illuminate over the crowd watching Marco Benevento perform on the Dean's Beans stage during the Green River Festival.. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Published: 7/10/2020 3:19:30 PM
Modified: 7/10/2020 3:19:18 PM

Oh, what a difference a pandemic makes in county life. (Sigh ...) One has only to compare the pages of the Greenfield Recorder of a year ago with this month’s coverage to remind us that county life used to be full of summer festivals, concerts, sports competitions, Old Home Days and gatherings of all kinds.

Every weekend, if not every day, residents had their pick of fun ways to engage with their neighbors and make new friends. Some of us could kick ourselves for not taking advantage of more of them. How many of these do you remember from the pages of The Recorder, July 2019?

■Fascinating machines draw crowds to Yankee Engine-uity Show at Orange Airport. “It’s our best year ever,” said Central Mass. Steam Gas & Machinery Association’s Steve Upham. The weekend event featured antique engines, antique tractors, steam engines and engine displays, old cars, food and music in a fair-like display.

■Community tag sale at Greenfield fairgrounds. Thousands of people crowded through the gates of the Franklin County Fairgrounds to browse and buy at a benefit tag sale to raise money for the fairgrounds’ mudslide project. “It looked like the fair was going on,” said organizer Dan Guin.

■Greenfield Military Band marks 115 years of music. And don’t we miss those bandstand concerts, particularly on the Fourth of July, by the Greenfield Military Band, Orange Community Band, the Shelburne Falls Military Band, the Turners Falls Community Band and others? These venerable musicians uphold a tradition that dates back more than a century, in some cases.

■The second annual Retired Iron Tractor Show at the fairgrounds was all about seeing old things that are still working, said organizer Mike Scranton. That, and having fun. This relatively new offering shows promise for the future.

■Another relatively new event, Quonquont Farm in Whately hosted its second annual blueberry festival, offering lectures, picking opportunities, local food vendors, and tastings of beverages from local breweries, culminating in a Blueberry Bake-off.

■Charlemont Forum, a public lecture series reminiscent of the lyceum movement of the 19th century, brought renowned speakers to the historic, air-conditioned Federated Church to offer “inquiry, not advocacy.” You can still attend by video conference by going to the Charlemont Forum’s Facebook page.

■Breakfast on the Porch: A fundraising staple of the Orange Historical Society. And speaking of historical societies, summer is traditionally their time to shine, with speakers, ice cream socials, demonstrations of old-time skills and museums full of local ephemera sure to educate and delight visitors of all ages.

■Music galore: The Green River Festival, Reggae Festival, plus too many to mention here. But you can still enjoy live music at the First Congregational Church of Montague’s free Wednesday night summer music series, 6 p.m. at 4 North St. This Wednesday, musicians Corky and Ken Lively will set up on the church lawn, so there is plenty of room for social distancing.

■Many of us will miss the Christmas in July boat parade at Barton Cove, a day-long event on the Connecticut River in Gill that culminated in fireworks.

■Summer used to be classic car season in Franklin County, with six regular cruise nights and car shows. No doubt their owners are still cruisin’ around.

The organizers of many events are making valiant efforts to reinvent themselves online: Give them a try. In the meantime, here’s hoping that every one of them returns next summer in a post-pandemic world.

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