It’s also the result of countless hours of volunteer work, local donations, and community collaborations, and that’s a trend the carousel looks to continue celebrating as it begins its inaugural year.
Upon entering the Berkshire Carousel – housed behind glass and under a bright red cupola – my two-year-old daughter Julia, her grandmother (Gaga, as she’s now known) and I were greeted with an overwhelming array of colors, images, and original artistry. Not only is each horse carefully hand-carved and painted by a sprawling team of local artists, each inner panel board – 14 in all – features a hand-painted image. Some depict scenes from around the region, others are portraits of local family members … but soon after handing over our wooden tokens to ride, we found it takes more than one spin on the wheel to see each and every one.
The carousel’s website is a great educational resource in and of itself, carefully explaining the inner workings of a merry-go-round as well as its outer adornments, and the historical significance behind it all. The site also includes several photos chronicling the artistic process of the horses and other elements, and includes a roster of the ponies with their names and ‘stats.’ (Side note: I was a little excited to find a ‘Jackie’ horse…is your name, or your child’s, represented? It’s fun to look!)
We took a seat in the Rocking Chariot, a burgundy leather carriage that rocked softly forward and backward. It was a good choice for a toddler who still holds a little trepidation toward the up-and-down horses, and it’s one of three chariots on the carousel, along with an ADA Handicapped-accessible bench and a spinning tub.
Throughout its opening weekend, vendors offered food, crafts, and local wares under the carousel’s adjacent event tent. Balloon Ben – quickly becoming a fixture in the Berkshires’ under-12 set with his quirky balloon animals – was on hand to twist up poodles, poofy hats, and butterflies. Julia chose a blue penguin, and this was one of the highlights of her day…. Nay, week.
What’s more, Berkshire-based Creatives will continue to be featured through the summer and into October: artisans will appear at the carousel’s Pop-up Art Marts every Saturday, and a Twilight Performance Series is also planned for Saturday evenings throughout the summer, featuring local performers and light fare from Pittsfield’s On a Roll Café.
In fact, local businesses seem to be constantly jumping on the band-wagon (or the horse?), whether it’s contributing a Berkshire-made item for The Little Green Gift Shop – a re-fabbed gardening shed with a small selection of totally reasonable souvenirs – or offering some regional flavors at the snack bar, including SoCo ice cream, Catherine’s Chocolates Horse Pops (both from Great Barrington), or Sarah’s Cheesecake (Pittsfield).
Many of us hope and try to support local businesses whenever we can, but it’s also great for residents and visitors alike to experience a slice of the entire region when visiting one attraction…it helps us all. The Berkshire Carousel is a great example of this model: having relied on community support since well before the first notch was carved into its first wooden pony, it’s celebrating in gratitude – having come full-circle.
The Berkshire Carousel is located at 50 Center St., in Pittsfield.
If you go:
1 Token = One Ride, $2
Snacks on premises
Rain or Shine