By DIANE BRONCACCIO
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
CHARLEMONT — On June 21, 1765, a petition to incorporate the town was granted, and this weekend there will be a townwide celebration of its 250th “birthday.”
Charlemont was one of the first towns to be incorporated along the Deerfield River. When the petition for town incorporation was approved, there was a population of about 665, according to the town’s Bicentennial History. And the nearest town — Deerfield — was about 22 miles away.
Festivities begin Friday night with a Charlemont Forum lecture about “The First Families of Charlemont: Who, When and Why?” at the Federated Church, starting at 7 p.m. This free lecture features a presentation by archaeologist Aaron Miller, assistant curator of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and a curatorial assistant at Historic Deerfield. For several years, Miller has researched the first British settlers and earlier inhabitants in the region. In 2006, he directed the Taylor’s Fort Archaeological Project, focusing on a French and Indian War-era fortified farmstead in East Charlemont.
On Saturday morning visitors can see what’s in side the town’s historical museum, located on the second floor of the Town Hall. “Usually it’s only open by appointment,” remarked Jerry Gosetti, co-chair of the town’s 250 Committee. “You’d be amazed at what’s in there. It’s great to see these old hidden treasures.”
Downstairs, there will be a display of the town’s historic documents in the Tyler Memorial Library. Both the museum and library will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A ceremony will be held inside the Federated Church Sanctuary starting at 11:45 a.m. Doug Johnson, who has written a song for this occasion, will perform in “Charlemont Song” in the sanctuary. At noon, there will be opening remarks by State Rep. Paul Mark, State Sen. Benjamin Downing and by Kim Blakeslee, 250 Committee co-chair. At 12:30 p.m., a performance by the Hawlemont Elementary Chorus will close the ceremony.
Lunch will be provided by the Federated Church in the Social Room and the outside law, under the tent. There will be birthday cake prepared by pastry chef Megan Blakeslee. Also, there will be a photo display of the town during some of its darkest days — during the hurricane of 1938 and during Tropical Storm Irene.
Other outdoor events will include booths of town artisans and crafters, musical entertainment, face-painting and the sale of Charlemont 250 memorabilia.
At the Hawlemont Elementary School, festivities will include softball, played by community softball teams, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., museum by local ensemble Small Change, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. There will be tours of the elementary school’s new agricultural buildings, and from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a program of historical artifacts and slide show.
There will be more special celebrations of the town’s 250th continue next month, especially during the annual Yankee Doodle Days celebration July 24 through 26 at the Charlemont Fairgrounds.
On Saturday, residents may sign up for the town’s 250th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt. Teams of at least three people (two must be residents) compete to win by collecting all listed items and taking designated photographs from around Charlemont. These teams are to create display boards by July 19, which will be judged on completeness and creativity. Awards will be decided and displayed during Yankee Doodle Days. The winning team wins a $250 grand prize.
This weekend’s events end with an “Actual Incorporation Date” Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, 8 to 10 a.m., hosted by Friends of Charlemont Fairgrounds, at the Fairgrounds.
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 277