Welcome to ‘Bee Town USA’: Bee Fest returns with day of virtual events

  • A bee dives into the center of a dandelion flower collecting pollen in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • This year’s Bee Fest features a virtual viewing of the Piti Theatre Co. musical “To Bee or Not to Bee.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2021 6:31:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Although Bee Fest this year will look different than in previous years, organizers plan to continue the “drumbeat of awareness” for healthy pollinators with a day of virtual events for the community.

“Last year we couldn’t do anything,” said Bee Fest founder and organizer Sandy Thomas. “We wanted to keep the joy and the excitement that people bring to this event through music and arts and cultures and planting flowers alive. This was the best way we could think to do it.”

According to Thomas, Bee Fest — which was canceled altogether last year due to the pandemic, putting on hold the traditional children’s activities, displays, lectures, honey tastings and pollinator parade — celebrates the contributions of Lorenzo Langstroth, pastor of the Second Congregational Church during the mid-1800s, who is known worldwide as the “father of modern beekeeping.”

The first Bee Fest was held in 2010, with the intention of celebrating the role of the honeybee in sustaining the environment.

“They provide one-third of our food,” Thomas said. “All the fruits and vegetables we eat and enjoy are produced by the work of pollinators, and they’re struggling for various reasons.”

Bee Fest will begin this year with a free 9 a.m. screening on Saturday of “The Bee Movie” at the Garden Cinemas on Main Street. Other events throughout the day include an art exhibit at the Pushkin Gallery, a guided “audio promenade” around Greenfield and a virtual viewing of the Piti Theatre Co. musical “To Bee or Not to Bee,” which before the pandemic had toured globally.

“We are really excited to create something that can be shared with families around the world,” said Piti Theatre Co.’s Artistic Director Jonathan Mirin. “We could keep touring until we’re in our 90s, but we still wouldn’t be able to reach everyone.”

Local support from visual artists and musicians made it possible to produce a virtual version of the production, which can be viewed via Zoom at 4 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a question and answer session with the creators. People can register to receive a link at greenfieldbeefest.org/events.

“The reason we made it was to help raise awareness to threats to pollinators, specifically pesticides and wireless proliferation,” Mirin said of the musical. “There are lots of things people can do to help pollinators locally. … The point of the performance is to connect people emotionally with the issue.”

The festival of virtual activities will be marked by the unveiling on Saturday morning of six bee sculptures designed by Greenfield Gallery owner Rachael Katz and painted by six area artists. The unveiling will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Second Congregational Church on Court Square.

Beginning at noon, people can take a tour of the bees and listen to information about them — as well as information about Langstroth’s contribution to beekeeping and agriculture — by downloading the Eggtooth Productions app on a cellphone and listening to “Pollinator’s Promenade.”

It’s the one “event” people can use forever, Thomas said, as the sculptures will be there permanently. She’s hopeful for more bee sculptures in the future.

“We’re really trying to establish ourselves as Bee Town, USA; that’s really the goal,” Thomas said. “The reason for that — with the crosswalk, and the bees in the parking garage, and the beehive sculpture in the pocket park on Bank Row — is to create awareness about healthy pollinators.”

Bee Fest schedule

9 a.m. — “The Bee Movie”: A free screening of Dreamworks Animation’s “The Bee Movie” at the Garden Cinemas on Main Street. No reservations or tickets; limit of 107 based on 50 percent capacity. First come, first served. Concessions will be open. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — “Exploded View: Hope is the Honey”: A guided installation at the Pushkin Gallery. Docents will guide individuals and pods of five or fewer through the installation. Participants may deposit what they need to leave behind from the pandemic into a memorial vault. Masks are required. Sponsored by Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center.

Noon — “Pollinator’s Promenade”: Download the free Eggtooth Productions app on your iPhone or Android and call up this GPS-guided audio tour that will take you to multiple bee-related sights and historical markers around Greenfield. The link will go live at noon and will remain available to revisit anytime.

4 p.m. — “To Bee or Not to Bee”: Join Piti Theatre Co. for the first public showing of the virtual version of its award-winning musical “To Bee or Not to Bee,” followed by a live Zoom talk-back with the creators/performers and beekeepers at 5 p.m. Register at greenfieldbeefest.org/events to receive a Zoom link to the performance.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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