Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD Once upon a time, before gas prices made family summer vacations nearly impossible, summer meant two-week vacations to Disney World or a three-month cross-country trip to take in the nation's sights.
This summer, "staycations" have become the signature vacations of 2008, which call for unlimited family fun right in one's hometown.
Westfield residents will not have to travel far this summer for family-friendly entertainment as Westfield on Weekends (WoW) in conjunction with the Westfield Business Improvement District (BID) has added another season to their elaborate calendar of events with the first ever Good Old Summer Times. The inception of this new season is now one of four major seasonal WoW events, including Colonial Harvest Day, Dickens Days and WinterGreen Days.
"This will be a summer to remember in Westfield," Bob Plasse, president of WoW, said, adding that last year's first Vintage Base Ball Regional Playoffs and World Championship were the inspiration for Good Old Summer Times.
"As we watch our downtown come alive with great events it confirms that Westfield is one of the finest places to live, work and play," he said. "We recognize that our city has many organizations that produce events on their own and our calendar is a clearinghouse for the wonderful community spirit."
Lisa McMahon, executive director of the Westfield BID explained that her organization's collaboration with WoW to produce Good Old Summer Times provides a "great opportunity to bring people downtown" and experience the Green on a whole new level.
"We're infusing some energy into downtown," she said.
McMahon explained that the BID is looking to pump up the energy downtown with their first Summer Sounds, two nights of free concerts on the Green. The Roomful of Blues will be kicking off the event on July 24 at 7:30 p.m. Blues artist Debbie Davies will be the final act on Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
McMahon also noted that the success of the weekly Farmers' Market on the Green has attracted even more vendors in an effort to support local agriculture.
Plasse explained that when creating the calendar of Good Old Summer Times, WoW was also looking to increase local theater throughout the city. He said the BID and WoW approached Westfield State College (WSC) to produce the inaugural Theater Downtown production of "The Belle of Amherst." He added that hopefully this will be the first of many plays produced downtown by WSC.
"'The Belle of Amherst' is a charming introduction into the world of Emily Dickinson," he said. "We thought it would be the perfect vehicle for the first production given that she is from Amherst and is beloved in New England."
Jack Shea, coordinator of the Theater Arts Program at WSC, also the director of "The Belle of Amherst," explained that this Tony award-winning play is a one-woman-show about Emily Dickinson, told onstage by the famous poet.
"She talks about her inspirations and why she writes and her relationships with her family," he explained. "[She shares] stories about her eccentricities to clarify who she really is."
Shea noted the importance of including theater in the Good Old Summer Times calendar because of its influence on the community and its ability to unite people of all ages.
"Theater is and always has been one of the most important things that builds and sustains a community," he said. "It's a reflection of each community's values, issues and ideas that a society is grappling with."
Plasse said he hopes that Good Old Summer Times will allow residents to enjoy a summer close to home and hopefully "attract thousands" to a new downtown.
He also noted that for those seeking a fun weekend getaway, all are invited to enter the contest for three vacations to Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., a weekend biking adventure and stay at a bed and breakfast in Florence, Mass., or a stay at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Plasse added that the getaway package also includes $50 for gas. Tickets for the raffle are $5 for one and $10 for three. The proceeds will go to fund WoW's ongoing calendar of programs, Plasse said.
For more information about Good Old Summer Times visit, www.westfieldonweekends.org.
The list of Good Old Summer Times events is as follows:
Tuesdays: Musical Moments at Amelia Park from 6:30 - 8 p.m. until Aug. 26. Free!
Wednesdays: Stanley Park's American Legion Concerts in the Beveridge Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. until July 23. Free!
Thursdays: Farmers' Market on the Green from 2 - 6 p.m. until Sept. 25.
Fridays: Stanley Park's Friday Mornings for Children in the Beveridge Pavilion at 10 a.m. until Aug. 22. Free!
Saturdays: Talented Tots and Teens on the Green from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. until Aug. 30. Free!
Saturdays: Saturday Night Live! Concerts on the Green from 6 - 11 p.m. until Aug. 23. Free!
Sundays: Stanley Park's Sunday Concerts in the Beveridge Pavilion from 6 - 8 p.m. until Aug. 31. Free!
Multiple Dates: The Westfield Athenaeum's Wild Reads! Event to be conducted on various dates until Aug. 8.
Multiple Dates: Boys and Girls Library Summer Reading Club. Free!
July 24: Westfield's Summer Sounds 2008 Concerts on the Green kick off with Roomful of Blues at 7:30 p.m. Free!
July 25 - 27: Vintage Base Ball Federation's Regional Playoffs Round Two at Bullens Field. Tickets are $35 for a seven pass ticket, $30 for a five pass ticket, $24 for a three pass ticket and $10 for one pass. Children under three years of age are admitted for free. July 25: Hartford Senators or Springfield MassMutuals vs. Whately Pioneers or Simsbury Taverneers at 7 p.m. July 26: Doubleheader featuring the Roxbury Nine or Boston Colonials vs. Westfield Wheelmen or New Hampshire Granite in the Championship Game beginning at 4 p.m. July 27: Luis Tiant's Latin Stars vs. Westfield Wheelmen at 1 p.m. in the Special Exhibition Game.
Aug. 3: The Kiwanis Club of Westfield presents Lights of Liberty Fireworks Celebration (rescheduled from July 3). Festivities begin at 5 p.m. in Stanley Park (raindate: Aug. 10). Free!
Aug. 6 - 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16: Westfield State College's Theatre Downtown will present The Bell of Amherst by William Luce at 8 p.m., at Piccolo's Ristorante, 110 Elm St. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at the door and at the Westfield Athenaeum. For reservations call 562-2277.
Aug. 13 - 16: Westfield State College's Theatre Downtown will present The Bell of Amherst by William Luce at 8 p.m., at Piccolo's Ristorante, 110 Elm St. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at the door and at the Westfield Athenaeum. For reservations call 562-2277.
Aug. 14 - 17: Vintage Base Ball Federation's World Championship at Bullens Field. Tickets are $35 for a seven pass ticket, $30 for a five pass ticket, $24 for a three pass ticket and $10 for one pass. Children under three years of age are admitted for free. Aug. 14: Playoff winner vs. Westfield Wheelmen at 7 p.m. Aug. 15: California vs. Canada at 7 p.m. Aug. 16: Doubleheader featuring the losers bracket and winners bracket beginning at 4 p.m. Aug. 17: World Championship doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
Aug. 15 - 17: The 81st Annual Westfield Fair at the Westfield Fairgrounds on Russellville Road. General admission is $7, $5 for seniors, children 12 years of age and younger are admitted free with one paid adult admission. Free parking. The fair will run from 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Aug. 21: Westfield's Summer Sounds 2008 Concerts on the Green presents Debbie Davies at 7:30 p.m. Free!
Aug. 30 - Sept. 1: Tea Pot Gallery's 5th Annual Westfield Arts on the Green will take place from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Aug. 30 - 31 and from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sept. 1. Free!