If you are planning on visiting Massachusetts any time from June to October, these are the months of the year when outdoor festivals abound. Franklin County in Western Massachusetts hosts a couple of notable festivals in the summer. The main festival that draws large crowds even from neighboring states is the annual Green River Festival. This year the festival will be held on Saturday July 12th -Sunday July 13th.
The Green River Festival tradition began on the ground of Greenfield Community College about twenty-eight years ago. It began as a small local festival that included vendors selling food and crafts, performers entertaining children with juggling and miming, activities for children such as face painting, a few local bands, a bagpiper at dawn, and the most important element – hot air balloons. It started out as a hot air balloon festival.
Today, the Green River Festival draws a huge crowd from outside the area as well as locals. It has evolved into a musical festival extravaganza with a Saturday night firework display, after the 6:00 p.m. hot air balloon lift off. Over the years, the festival planners have increased the numbers of bands and solo performers, so that it has expanded from perhaps three or four performances in the late 80s, to about fifteen performances now. Several thousand people attend the festival which usually has events all through Saturday and Sunday and into the night. Shuttle buses run from the town of Greenfield to the community college.
Headline acts in previous years have included Dr John, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Taj Mahal, Arlo Guthrie, Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Koko Taylor, and Michael Franti and Spearhead, to name but just a few. This year, Norah Jones in an all female group that calls themselves Pussnboots will be there performing rockabilly and country songs. Trombone Shorty will play the music of New Orleans. The musical genres represented are very eclectic. In a good year there will be jazz, bluegrass, country, blues, rockabilly, folk, reggae and pop. The majority of bands are somewhat obscure but the planners have gone for giving the audience quantity rather than famous acts. The attendance is enthusiastic even though there is usually no alcohol at the events. This year is the exception and there will be a beer tent. There is plenty of food. The tickets are quite expensive but hordes of people turn up anyway.
Another event hosted in Franklin County in June that is gaining in momentum as it has only been running for about five years is the Mutton and Mead Festival in Montague. As the name suggests, this is more of a Renaissance Faire, and the majority of participants attend in costume. There is a cast of attendees that have assumed identities, and wander around the festival in character. There are a large number of vendors selling suitably medieval clothing, jewelry, weaponry, and other assorted items. One large food concession area sells medieval food. Possible events at the festival are knights jousting in full armor on horseback, Morris dancers, and musical acts consisting of unusual instruments. This event is held on June 21st and 22nd this year.
One of the best county fairs in Massachusetts is held in Greenfield in the beginning of September, just after the children have gone back to school. This fair has a Midway with rides of all kinds and games with prizes, food vendors selling everything from Chinese food to cookies, There are also exhibitors displaying heating systems, water tanks, hot tubs, and a variety of home improvement items, as well as farm animals and equipment. A large Roundhouse displays local produce and crafts submitted to 4H. Finally, there are musical acts and a demolition derby. The Franklin County fair will be held on September 4-7th. The fair begins with a large parade through Greenfield with floats from local companies and antique cars.
In October, Greenfield hosts the Riverside Blues and BBQ Festival. This event is held in a large local park called Beacon Field. This event is still fairly inexpensive and it is an opportunity to sample a variety of barbecue to the sound of blues bands. There is a beer tent at this festival. It is taking place this year on October 11th and 12th.
This link describes almost all of the annual events coming up in the near future in the county. Some of the small towns in the county hold small events and block parties every year.
Franklin County Chamber of Commerce: Fairs and Festivals