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Dogs are the champs in first-ever keg pull at Greenfield Winter Carnival

  • Cutlines: Top left, behind Kaya is Aliana Pierce, resident of Windsor, Cummington twins Kaya Farrington in pink with Nathan Farrington, Olivia Mason in pink from Worthington, and Paloma Hsiao-Sheldon in blue from Plainfield, students in Deborah Fitzroy’s first-grade class study animal tracking with Student Conservation Association members Hannah Colbert of Cornwall, Conn., and Kyle Plummer of Nashville, Tenn. In the little round tins are animal prints of woodchuck, bobcat that the students were studying.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

    Cutlines: Top left, behind Kaya is Aliana Pierce, resident of Windsor, Cummington twins Kaya Farrington in pink with Nathan Farrington, Olivia Mason in pink from Worthington, and Paloma Hsiao-Sheldon in blue from Plainfield, students in Deborah Fitzroy’s first-grade class study animal tracking with Student Conservation Association members Hannah Colbert of Cornwall, Conn., and Kyle Plummer of Nashville, Tenn. In the little round tins are animal prints of woodchuck, bobcat that the students were studying.
    LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lured forward by a piece of beef jerky held by his owner Susan Crimmons of Chesterfield, River, a Nova Scotia Duck tolling retriever, pulls an empty beer keg at the start of the 1st annual K9 Keg Pull at Beacon Field in Greenfield . The competition was part of the  91st Annual Greenfield Winter Festival on Sunday. Pam Kinsmith, one of the pull’s organizers, holds the microphone in the background.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

    Lured forward by a piece of beef jerky held by his owner Susan Crimmons of Chesterfield, River, a Nova Scotia Duck tolling retriever, pulls an empty beer keg at the start of the 1st annual K9 Keg Pull at Beacon Field in Greenfield . The competition was part of the 91st Annual Greenfield Winter Festival on Sunday. Pam Kinsmith, one of the pull’s organizers, holds the microphone in the background.
    LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cutlines: Top left, behind Kaya is Aliana Pierce, resident of Windsor, Cummington twins Kaya Farrington in pink with Nathan Farrington, Olivia Mason in pink from Worthington, and Paloma Hsiao-Sheldon in blue from Plainfield, students in Deborah Fitzroy’s first-grade class study animal tracking with Student Conservation Association members Hannah Colbert of Cornwall, Conn., and Kyle Plummer of Nashville, Tenn. In the little round tins are animal prints of woodchuck, bobcat that the students were studying.<br/>LAURA RODLEY
  • Lured forward by a piece of beef jerky held by his owner Susan Crimmons of Chesterfield, River, a Nova Scotia Duck tolling retriever, pulls an empty beer keg at the start of the 1st annual K9 Keg Pull at Beacon Field in Greenfield . The competition was part of the  91st Annual Greenfield Winter Festival on Sunday. Pam Kinsmith, one of the pull’s organizers, holds the microphone in the background.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

Dogs — big, little and in-between — drew cheers from a crowd of about 200 Sunday at the 91st annual Greenfield Winter Carnival, where canine contenders vied for prizes in the first-ever K9 Keg Pull. Dogs pulled empty beer kegs or soda cans, depending on their size, trying to cross the finish line first as part of a fundraiser for the Paws Park of Greenfield Initiative. The effort seeks to raise money for a proposed dog park.

The Hilltowns were represented by River, a caramel-colored, 5-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever owned by Susan Crimmons of Chesterfield.

The idea for having a dog park, a safe place to walk dogs, came after K9 Keg Pull organizer Pam Kinsmith’s dog Charlotte was hit and killed by a car in Greenfield in 2012.

When it was her dog’s turn, Crimmons used a piece beef jerky as an enticement to encourage River to pull a keg attached to him with a red harness. Like many contestants, River started off with a bang, then stopped short when the rope tied to the keg became taut. Lured by more beef jerky, River sailed to the end of the 100-yard dash — the timed course was cordoned off with yellow tape — as people cheered him on.

“We didn’t have time to practice,” said Crimmons, who had learned of the event through a Facebook friend. “It would have been easier if snow had been there” to help slide the kegs along, Crimmons said. As the snow had melted, the dogs had to pull the containers over grass.

Even so, “It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We needed a little more practice.”

Bernese mountain dogs, Pekinese, Labrador retrievers, pit bull mixes, pugs and other dogs competed, all of them well-behaved.

At the start of the event, only 17 owners had signed up their dogs, but after noticing how much fun it was, 13 more signed up, said Rachael Kashner of Greenfield, who organized the event with Kinsmith. Certificate prizes were given out by Kinsmith for “fastest,” “fashion­ista” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

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Tracking how-to

Students at Berkshire Trail Elementary School on Main Street in Cummington got a chance to study animal tracking and camouflage with 12 Student Conservation Association members last month. As temperatures hovered in the single digits, no one ventured outside to study animal prints. Instead, students looked at casts of prints and played environmentally based games in the gym, such as relay races where participants tried to move as animals do: waddling, hopping or walking in a straight line.

“It was amazing. They had a great time even though they couldn’t go outside,” said Maya Randolph, 21, of Pittsburgh, who led games with Evelyn Cill­ey, of Saranac Lake, N.Y. Both are living in Hawley while they complete their Conservation Association residency term.

•••

Swedish weaving

Beverly Bowman of Worthington will present a talk, “Swedish Weaving — Her Process” at the Worthington Historical Society, an event that it is co-sponsoring with Arts Alive in the Hilltowns. The talk takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. at Historical Society headquarters at 6 Williamsburg Road.

Bowman, a member of the Hilltown Artisans Guild, learned to weave while on a trip to Scandinavia in 1998. On her return home, she found a teacher a little closer home, Becky Ashenden, who taught Swedish techniques at her Vavstuga Weaving School in Shelburne Falls. Bowman honed her craft, travelling in the United States and to Sweden for courses. She prefers working with natural fibers, primarily linen, wool or a combination of the two. She works on Swedish Glimakra looms in a timber-framed studio at her Witt Hill Road Cape Cod farmhouse. The program is free; donations appreciated.

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T-shirt design contest

Entries are being accepted until May 1 for the first annual Worthington Alive in the Hilltowns T-shirt design contest, which is open to all ages. Organizers seek a design that is a creative, thoughtful representation of the culture, mission and spirit of the Hilltown Arts Festival, which celebrates area residents’ art and the Hilltowns’ diverse community culture.

The winning design will appear on T-shirts worn by festival workers, and sold during the third annual Hilltown Arts Festival, which takes place on July 6 in Worthington and features pottery, weaving, sculpture and music, among other offerings. The grand prize for the contest is $200; the second-place entry will receive $100 and third place, $50. Winners will also be listed in the 2013 Hilltown Arts Festival program, on the Arts Alive website and in the festival’s promotional material.

Designs must be black and white, at least 8-by-10 inches and no larger than 11-by-17 inches. Entries — one per person — can be sent as an email attachment (in .jpg format) to staffordnatalie@gmail.com or by snail mail to Arts Alive, P.O. Box 3, Worthington, MA 01098. Include name, mailing address, phone number and email address on a separate piece of paper taped to the back of the artwork. No submissions will be accepted later than the May 1 deadline. Winners will be announced by June 1.

Laura Rodley can be reached at lrodley.gazette@gmail.com.

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