COMMUNITY- The Best 2013 Berkshire Record Magazine (Return to The Best top)
Best Community Center
Berkshire South, 15 Crissey Road, Great Barrington
Celebrating over 10 years of community building, Berkshire South has served thousands of children, adults and seniors from all over South County as well as the surrounding regions in Connecticut and New York since 2002. To date, the non-profit establishment has granted more than $100,000 in financial aid for membership and program assistance, allowing countless community members to be touched by their goal to create a sense of community and common purpose.
Best Jet Service
Epic Jet LLC, 6 Roaring Brook, Lenox
Epic Jet seeks to eliminate the variables and headaches of less refined travel options, ensuring that you arrive to your destination relaxed, refreshed and on schedule. With a focus on safety, efficiency, reliability and flexibility, Epic Jet believes today’s economic demands shouldn’t be a deterrent to security and comfort.
Best Apple Picking
Windy Hill Farms, 686 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington
For a unique horticultural experience and a great day out with the family picking apples, look no further than Windy Hill Farms, who offer both apple and blueberry picking. On their seven-acre apple orchard, they remain dedicated to seek, grow and offer traditional favorites, including native species as well as cultivars and selections from the United States and abroad.
Best Ski Area
Ski Butternut, 380 State Road, Great Barrington
Widely regarded as the number one Massachusetts ski resort, Butternut offers wintertime adventures for families and those just learning skiing or snowboarding. With 22 trails stretched out over 110 acres, Butternut is conveniently located in the scenic Berkshire Mountains, perfect for day trips from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Western Mass. With affordable lift tickets and season passes, it’s a great winter vacation destination for the whole family.
Best Pediatric Dentist
Yarmonsky Pediatric Dentistry, 100 Maple Avenue, Great Barrington
By adhering to their mission to make a difference in every child’s life by creating healthy smiles that last a lifetime, Yarmonsky Pediatric Dentistry treats kids with honest, respect and a sense of humor, while teaching them that developing healthy dental habits is both smart and fun. With efficient, talented and caring staff and state-of-the-art equipment, they provide top quality care in a relaxed atmosphere.
Kilpatrick Athletic Center, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington
Housed on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, The Kilpatrick Center is an expansive complex, with 58,000 feet of state-of-the-art exercise and recreational equipment. With classes and programs led by an enthusiastic and committed group of industry professionals and activities that range from swimming and racquetball to yoga and rock climbing, the Kilpatrick Athletic Center creates an environment where members can improve their life quality, find community and challenge themselves through life-long, integrated solutions to health and fitness.
Carlson Propane, 79 Pike Road East, Sheffield
Using the most durable, cost-effective and efficient products available, the family owned and operated Carlson Propane provides both a commitment to service and a well-trained staff that can meet all needs, no matter how large or small. As a result, they are able to provide clean, efficient propane to fit everyone’s needs.
Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield
BCC strives to place higher education within the reach of all Berkshire County residents, and remains committed to academic excellence, student success and leadership in the community. With a focus on its core values of integrity, innovation, community engagement and respect for differences, continues to offer a path to higher education and success for Berkshire County citizens and beyond.
Cove Lanes, 109 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington
The family-owned and operated Cove Lanes is a one-stop destination for bowling fun, complete with full service lounge and snack bar, arcade and two-story, 18-hole indoor mini golf course. Their 24-lane facility is perfect for serious and casual players alike, with plenty of league and tournament options, as well as youth programs, party availabilities and their own “rock n’ bowl” deal offered every Friday and Saturday night.
Michele’s Salon and Day Spa, 54 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington
For over 10 years, Michele’s has been providing top-quality expert salon services as well as convenient and flexible scheduling and planning to remove the hassle and accommodate any needs in event preparation. From upscale weddings to low-key romantic getaways, their talented staff and laid-back environment can accommodate parties of any size or need to help you feel and look your best for any special occasion.
Best Limousine Service
Abbott’s Limousine & Livery Service, 435 Greylock Street, Lee
The family-owned and operated Abbott’s Limousine has been delivering satisfied customers to their destinations for 48 years. Their solid reputation is built on an attentive concern for detail and the transportation and personal needs of their clients, maintaining the highest standards with their 30 hand-picked full- and part-time drivers, making them the go-to wheelmen for your journey to and from Berkshire County.
Best Weight Management Program
Berkshire Weight Management Center
By providing the tools necessary for an individualized approach to nutrition and wellness, Berkshire Weight Management Center employs their dedicated and well-educated staff with a comprehensive three-phase program to offer world-class energy, weight-loss, nutritionally and physical performance solutions. With a wealth of medical research, educational resources and proven nutritional supplements at their disposal, they blaze a fun, successful and supportive trail to a healthier lifestyle.
Best Elected Official
With over 30 years of public service under his belt, lifelong Berkshire resident William “Smitty” Pignatelli has served as State Representative to the Berkshires’ 4th District for a decade, focusing on a strong communication and connection with his fervently supportive constituency. As a frequent smiling face at events countywide both great and small, he has deservedly achieved status not only as a well-beloved local celebrity but also as a staunch and dedicated defender and representative of his constituents’ needs and values as a solid Beacon Hill veteran and a friendly Berkshire native.
As a community yoga destination, TriYoga Berkshire is more than just another yoga studio. As a community-based non-profit in collaboration with other institutions, they offer inspiring classes in health, music and art. With supportive and experienced teachers, they seek to foster positive energy, creativity and well-being for all ages, means and skill levels in promoting yoga as both a practice and a way of life.
Berkshire Functional Fitness, 325 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington
Berkshire Functional Fitness’ tried and true motto, “Learn it, Live it, Love it,” is well-earned. Focusing on a broad and practical approach to a healthy and fit life, their passionate team of dedicated trainers and instructors strive to meet the exercise needs and improve the well-being of all members with programs that integrate structural integrity, postural integrity, balanced muscular development, correct techniques, injury prevention, alignment and precision of movement to offer the best in physical conditioning and training.
Canyon Ranch, Lenox
At Canyon Ranch, joy and good health is contagious. As one of the world’s premier health resorts, their spa treatments combine techniques both ancient and modern that restore your body’s healthy balance and reenergize body and mind. They offer a large selection of lavish spa therapies, ranging from classic massages and Asian therapies to advanced restorative touch therapies and ayurvedic body treatments facilitated by gifted therapists and aestheticians who help determine the appropriate, individualized treatment plan for anyone. They also feature world-class salon services including manicures, pedicures, makeup and hair styling, as well as service for me including a gentlemen’s spa renewal treatment.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
Gardening author Virginia Small once called Berkshire Botanical Garden “a glistening community gem,” and she couldn’t be more correct. With an incredible collection of plants indigenous or thriving in the Berkshires, they boast over 3,000 species and varieties of garden vegetation encompassing 15 cultivated acres. As both a functional and ornamental garden, Berkshire Botanical has expanded in both sheer size and variety over its tenure as one of the oldest gardens in the U.S., ever pursuing their mission to fulfill the community’s need for education and inspiration concerning the art and science of gardening, as well as the preservation and improvement of the local environment.
Best Local Hero
Since taking the helm as general manager of the Berkshire Co-op Market in 2002, the community market’s sales have grown from $1.5 million to over $8.5 million – an expansion that has not only offered more and more quality grocery products to Berkshire residents, but also injected vigor into the regional economy, specifically through local produce markets. Over the last decade, Ames’ leadership has furthered Berkshire Co-op’s goals to support the local economy through farmers, food producers and small businesses as well as sustainable business practices and regional food systems towards a more thriving community.
Best Adventure Park
Butternut’s Cruiser and Twisted Terrain parks
Featuring the region’s best terrain parks, Ski Butternut offers a varied and unique freestyle terrain park experience, with two park options of varying difficulty to accommodate all skiers and snowboarders. Their Cruiser terrain park, for those either new to the style or looking to get technical on smaller stuff, allows riders to get used to smaller boxes, rails and jumps before leveling up to the Twisted terrain park, which is loaded with natural features like log rides and rock jibs, man-made features like a wall ride and 26 constantly updated and switched-out rail features, as well as impressive jump lines ranging from small tables to 30-foot step downs.
Best Local Nonprofit
Berkshire Taconic, Sheffield
Celebrating a quarter century of community building and over $100 million in grants given, Berkshire Taconic has unquestionably proven itself as an agent of positive change in the region it serves. From the arts, senior and youth programs to health care and transportation, their grants have helped thousands of donors every year achieve countless philanthropic goals and build stronger, more vibrant communities throughout the Berkshires and beyond.
Best Radio Station
WSBS, Great Barrington
WSBS is the main source of news and information to residents of the Southern Berkshire Region, serving over 200,000 people in the tri-state Berkshire area. As a full-service community station, they make a major commitment to keeping locals up to date on the latest news and information with two full-time news reporters plus hourly reports from the Associated Press’ radio network. They also feature an extensive music mix, talk shows and local interviews, keeping radio a valuable medium to the citizens of Southern Berkshire County.
Best Private Gallery
Mary Childs Gallery, Great Barrington
Featuring a diverse array of works from sculpture and ceramics to photography and painting, the Child Gallery offers an exquisite and sophisticated view of meticulously-crafted fine art across a mixed media. Of particular note is their collection of glass art, drawing eyes from near and far and largely considered to be the best in the region.
Best Political Contest
MA Senate Race – Brown v. Warren
In November, Elizabeth Warren upset incumbent Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat in what was both a heated and expensive contest for both sides. The $68 million total spent by both campaigns combined – mostly on a battery of back-and-forth television advertisements – was the most expensive senate race in the entire country. Garnering approximately 53 percent of the vote in a tight race, Warren became the first woman ever elected as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
Best Golf Course
Wyantenuck Country Club, Great Barrington
Featuring a beautifully landscaped course surrounded with flowers, mountain views, wildlife and rivers, Wyantenuck’s golf course, open since the early days of golf in Great Barrington in 1896, is an exciting and challenging course with 6,403 total yards of golf to be had. As aesthetically pleasing as it is well-maintained, it’s appreciated for some of its trickier holes. Hole 17 - teeing off across a river and up a hill – is a course favorite.
Rudolf Steiner School, Great Barrington
The Rudolf Steiner School treats education as an art, wherein everything that is taught must speak to a student’s experience and imagination. As an independent coeducation school accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of New England, the Steiner School’s curriculum focuses on a comprehensive integration of the sciences, mathematics, literature and world history with the fine and practical arts and study of cultural heritage. Graduates of the Steiner School leave with an ability to discern and appreciate order and beauty, but also a knack for asking tough, critical questions about life – skills they can use to shape a changing world.
Best Bed and Breakfast
Wainwright Inn, Great Barrington
Combining Berkshire beauty with European hospitality, The Wainwright Inn has been around since colonial times, making it both a historic cultural landmark and a destination in all seasons for a fun, relaxing or romantic getaway while you explore the Berkshires. With its convenient central location proximal to countless natural, cultural and entertainment wonders, it’s the perfect place to unwind in between excursions to Tangelwood, the Rockwell Museum, Bash Bish Falls or Ski Butternut. Add to this the amazing breakfasts and the hosts’ unending hospitality, and you’ve got a Berkshire B&B paradise.
Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires
VIM’s mission is as simple as it is singular – to make their community better one patient at a time. Since 2004, VIM has treated thousands of in-need patients with free, compassionate health care, serving as a user-friendly portal to the health care system for those who lack insurance. Countless stories from previous Berkshire patients act as the most telling testimony to the necessary, inspiring and outstanding nature of the work of these volunteer clinicians.
Best Law Firm
Gogel & Gogel, South Egremont
The motto at Gogel & Gogel is simple, but effective: Small town attention with big city results. Attorney Kenneth Gogel’s resume is a testament to those results, from several high-profile national class action victories across the country to the successful reorganization of numerous small business after bankruptcy. With expertise in business and commercial law, employment law, arts and entertainment law, estate matters and both residential and commercial real estate transactions, Gogel & Gogel is the place to go for any problem big or small.
ARTS AND CULTURE (Return to The Best top)
Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street, Pittsfield
From ancient history and natural science to acclaimed art and everything in between, the diverse collections and exhibits at Berkshire Museum offer a “window on the world” to curious knowledge seekers of any age. Bring people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking, the museum strives to make inspirational and educational connections among art, history and natural science.
Best Local Dance Company
Olga Dunn Dance Company, Great Barrington
Now embarking into their fourth decade, Olga Dunn continues to pursue their mission of striving for excellence in dance through dedicated professional level training and mesmerizing performances. Now a household name in dance throughout the Berkshires and beyond, they have reached thousands through not only critically-acclaimed performance but also guest workshops, public master classes, lecture demonstrations for area school children and outreach programming.
Known as “The Bard of Barrington,” Michael Houlihan’s personal poetic style and dedication to the medium has earned him a reputation as the poet laureate of South County. He has pursued his mission – to bring poetry to the community he lives in – with commitment and vigor, hosting many poetry nights and groups as well as inspiring young poets across the county since becoming a Berkshire native in the 1960s.
Higher Organix, Great Barrington
Operating within the self-appointed genre of “organic-livetronica,” this dynamic power trio prides themselves on their nigh indefinable style, incorporating dance rhythms and electronic experimentation into a jam-band foundation evolved by jazz-like improvisation. Focusing on a delivery that is as spontaneous as humanly possible, they never plan their sets – flowing in form from heavy rock to ethereal ambient to twitchy house-trance – and they are a live experience that must be heard to be believed.
Best Emerging Artist
Teruko Kushi, Great Barrington
Teruko Kushi’s imaginative and one of a kind paintings and drawings reflect a style that is at once vivid and dark, both playful and filled with visual depth, and reveals a colorful artist’s perspective that echoes a reverence for the natural world and beyond. Simultaneously ethereal and psychedelic, her subjects burst off the page in eye-popping creative splendor.
Huckleberry Delsignore, Pittsfield
Huckleberry Delsignore’s unique approach to crocheting has made her one of the most talked-about creators of wearable art in the region. Pushing the structural and sculptural boundaries of the common craft into exciting new frontiers, her work creatively walks the line between fashion and performing arts, and her work has been proudly worn far and near – from residencies at Berkshire Museum and Mass. MoCA to being featured in the Huffington Post, the Three Letter Man Gallery in London, BASE in Miami and an episode of MTV Extreme Cribs, just to name a few.
Best Orchestral Director
This conductor – whose large-statured, bushy-haired physical presence is nearly as remarkable as his musical presence – is one to watch for possibly taking over the musical director vacancy at Tanglewood. His musically cerebral but aesthetically dynamic performance conducting both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma this past summer at Tanglewood solidified his position in the hearts of music lovers throughout the Berkshires.
Best Scenic Design
Carl Sprague, “A Christmas Carol” at The Colonial Theater in Pittsfield
Sprague’s amazing set design work on “A Christmas Carol” – on a low budget, no less – brought an imaginative and detailed visual aesthetic to the classic holiday story put on at the Colonial. From the grandiosity of the cathedral and the streets of London to the dark, intimate corners of the bedrooms of the poor, Sprague’s scenic design didn’t just bring the setting to the audience of 19th century London – he brought the audience into the setting.
Best Dramatic Performance, Actress
Jayne Atkinson as Edith Bolling Galt Wilson in “Edith”
Ruling the stage in the title role of this powerhouse performance, Atkinson’s Edith (first lady and second wife of President Woodrow Wilson) is a character of multifaceted moods and emotions – and Atkinson executed them all seamlessly. At times charming, elegant and controlled, and at others flamboyant and confident, her lively and emotive performance breathed life into an excellent work of historic fiction.
Best Dramatic Performance, Actor
Jason Asprey as Ronnie in “Parasite Drag”
In a tragicomedic work that created controversy over its portrayal of dark and sometimes excessive behavior between family members during a crisis, Jason Asprey delivers a strong performance, filled with both nuance and volatility as “Ronnie.” In his role, Asprey waxes both poetic and obscene, filling his already dynamically-written character simultaneously with hostility and violence crossed with affection and nobility in one of the best performances in Asprey’s celebrated career.
Best Supporting Performance
Jonathan Epstein as Stephano the butler in Shakespeare & Company’s “The Tempest”
In this jolly and quirky twist on a Shakespearian classic, Epstein elevates a side character to one of the most entertaining aspects of the production in a performance lauded by The New York Times and audiences alike. With British aplomb and the self-serving logic of an alcoholic, Epstein’s performance pushes Stefano into the limelight as a key piece of the essential puzzle of understanding “The Tempest” as a character trapped in deluded visions of who they are and what’s important in life.
“A Chorus Line” at the Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
In this flawless take on the classic Tony Award-winning musical, Berkshire Theatre Group’s youthful ensemble cast deliver pitch-perfect performances in director Eric Hill’s uncluttered approach, allowing for the true synthesis of this memorable production to show through in its iconic music and lyrics.
Best Production of a Play
“Edith” by the Berkshire Theatre Group, Stockbridge
In this absorbing historical work, the story of Woodrow Wilson’s second wife Edith Bolling Galt Wilson and her commanding role in the White House following her husband’s extended illness is brought to life by a well-written script and even better acting throughout the main and supporting cast. Led by the excellent, multifaceted performance of Edith Wilson by Jayne Atkinson, the work is wonderfully and almost cinematically choreographed, with an outstandingly-designed set that seamlessly took the audience through a whirlwind of 54 scenes with expert pacing for a performance that is not to be forgotten.
Best Dance Performance
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s “The Uncommitted” at the Mahaiwe Theater, Great Barrington
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s appearance at the Mahaiwe this past summer showcased a rare mood for the celebrated company – one of darkness, pessimism, loneliness, but one that rang true in its choreography’s vivid physical expression of these ebon emotions. The superb synergy amongst the performing dancers highlighted Taylor’s knack for fluidity even in the context of a dynamic and punchy Schubert musical backdrop.
Best Local Choreographer
Olga Dunn, Great Barrington
A veteran immersed in the world of dance since the age of five, Dunn’s resume is nearly as impressive as the work put on through her dance company in Barrington. After studying dance in Virginia, Canada, Boston and Washington D.C., she pursued dance in New York City in multiple studios, which she credits with truly crystallizing her personal ideas about dance. The founder of the Olga Dunn Dance Company, she has guided her company to five Merit Aid awards from the state, named a choreography state finalist and was chosen to serve as a Massachusetts Cultural Council panelist in Boston, confirming her reputation as one of the biggest names in dance and choreography in the region.
Best Local Dancer TIE
Raised in the Berkshires in his youth under the guidance of his mother, the legendary Olga Dunn, Burke has made a name for himself throughout the county and beyond, performing with renowned dance companies such as Amy Marshalland Ann Maria Mazzinni, as well as the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Recently, he guested with his mother’s dance company at a gospel festival at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington in June of last year.
After dancing for over a decade with the Canterella School of Dance in Pittsfield, Comeau now brings a smile to the faces of audiences in the eastern part of the state in her successful new gig performing with the Harvard University Dance Group.
Best Historical Site
Ventfort Hall, Lenox
This imposing Jacobean Revival mansion typifies the Gilded Age in Lenox is the home of The Museum of the Gilded Age, and rightfully so. The picturesque architecture and grounds are not only aesthetically breathtaking, but also serve to interpret the great changes that occurred in American life, industry and society during the fascinating social era known as the Gilded Age.
Best Public Gallery
Good Purpose Gallery, Lee
The Good Purpose Gallery is aptly named. Not only are they a vivid source of artistic vitality on Main Street in Lee, but they promote creativity far and wide in an effort to further their goal of encouraging and developing the talents of young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with learning disorders. Through exhibits, events and community gatherings, they make the local art world a little brighter, all while facilitating the artistic and expressive opportunities of the differently-abled.