Quick Picks

  • David Ginisi


Sample a Variety of Events in Johnny’s Backyard:

The calendar in this issue of The Guide to North Central Massachusetts is chock-full of terrific events for all ages, from apple festivals to ice fishing derbies and concerts performed on historic pianos. No matter when you’re visiting the region, you’re sure to find something fun for the family to do. Here’s a sampling from the great buffet of events on tap this season.

Quirky Collections:

What’s your passion? From shelves lined with cranberry glass pitchers to bottles filled with buttons, local residents just love to collect items of interest. And once a year, they’re invited to spotlight a few of their favorite things at the Cabin Fever Collections Show sponsored by the Narragansett Historical Society. After a long winter indoors, collectors of treasures and trinkets gather at the American Legion hall in Baldwinville to exhibit their favorite and discuss their acquisitions with visitors. The show is always an eye-opener – you just never know what interests lurk in the hearts of New Englanders. Pocketwatches and antique phonographs. Quilts and comic books. Wood carvings and washboards. Elephants and birds. Each year’s event brings out a new set of curiosities and collectibles, along with owners who are happy to share their stories of how their started their collections… and why. The 2019 show will be held on Sunday, March 3. But beware! You might catch the collecting bug as you tour the hall!


The Race is On!

Picture it: Two days of racing excitement, right here in the heart of North Central Massachusetts! The Longsjo Classic has been a racing circuit staple for nearly six decades – and you can catch racing fever in Leominster and Fitchburg on July 5 and 6. Named after Fitchburg’s Arthur “Art” Matthew Longsjo, Jr., an American Olympian speed skater and cyclist who was the first person to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year, the Longsjo Classic encompasses the Leominster Rollstone Bank Criterium on Saturday, and the Fitchburg Downtown Criterium on Sunday. Racers come from around the world to compete in this long-standing cycling competition. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Let Freedom Ring!

Of course you can find parades, picnics and fireworks displays throughout Johnny’s backyard on the Fourth of July. But don’t forget where it all started… that simple document known as the Declaration of Independence. To remind us what launched this great nation, Templeton residents ring the Fourth with – what else? – a reading of the Declaration. The first church of Templeton, located on the town commons, hosts this annual tradition in which local officials and residents – some in period costume – read the document, right down to the names of each of the signers who pledged their very lives to the noble cause. And yes, the bell in the church steeple rings a reminder of what the day is really all about.


Chuggin’ Along:

They whirr, clunk and clatter as they go through their paces, grinding corn, pumping water, and slicing shingles. Large and small, the steam – and gas-powered engines of days gone by are still chugging away, thanks to aficionados who are dedicated to keeping machines doing their job. Gas-powered clothes washers and rope-braiding machines, tractors of all sizes and shapes, pumps, pulleys and wheels abound the Yankee Engineuity show in Orange from June 28-30 at the Orange Airport. And while it’s fascinating to watch the engines chug along as they do their work, there’s more to the event. Don’t miss the kiddie tractor pull, or the tractor parade, the live music and flea market!

Want to see more? For more than four decades, the Pepperell Crank-Up has been drawing visitors to the town field to see tractors, steam engines, demonstrations and more. Stop by from 8 am to 4 pm on July 7 to see and hear these engines do their work!


They’ve Got Talent:
They may not be noted in art history books, or the catalogs of famous auction houses, but there’s no shortage of talented artists living and working in North Central Massachusetts. Summer is a great time to explore local museums, galleries and art & craft shows to find terrific pieces to display in that special spot in your home, or to simply enjoy as you travel through the region. But where to begin? Here’s a sampling of some top exhibitions and spaces to explore.

Fitchburg Art Museum’s Exhibition of Art & Craft, running from June through Labor Day, is a n annual juried exhibition of works – from photographs to sculptures and more – created by local artists. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice Award!

The Petersham Art Center offers changing exhibits by local artists, along with displays of items for sale. Jewelry, pottery, watercolors – whatever your passion, you can probably find something to love here.


The Gardner Area League of Artists (GALA) holds its Spring show on April 26-28, complete with live music and art demonstrations, at the American Legion Hall in Wnchendon.

The Templeton Arts & Crafts Fair on August 17 & 18 has become a must-visit show for everyone who loves to see what New England craftspeople are doing these days. It’s a fun-filled weekend, with live music, food and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy – and it benefits scholarships for local students.

Sink or…Win?
Are you brave enough to try the Dinghy Dash? The lazy, hazy days of August are a great time to gather up cardboard cartons, duct tape and paint – and design a creative (and sea-worthy) boat to compete in the Hubbardston’s second annual cardboard boat race! The rules are simple: the life-size boat has to made of only cardboard and duct tape and capable of holding a person to pilot it. Then the fun begins! The first vessel to complete the buoy-marked course on Brigham Pond takes home racing honors – but fear not! There are awards, too, for the most creative design… and the “best sink.” Mark August 24 on your calendar – and head off to the races!


Getting Around:

You can find details, including directions and hours, about these and many other great family-friendly events in the Calendar section on Pages 21-31 of this issue of The Guide. Explore! Enjoy!