North Shore Bloggers Consortium: Picks of the Weekend

The weekend ahead is a busy one, jam-packed with fitness, fun, history, art, and more than a few Halloween heartstoppers.  Here are my picks for the weekend of October 21-24.

Amesbury people will want to take particular note of Sunday’s Cider Dash and Wellness Fair (final entry in the weekend round up) for kids and their families at Cider Hill Farm on Sunday.  For more to do all across the north shore check out fifth joy, Good Morning Gloucester, North Shore Dish, The Two PalaverersLynn Happens, and Food for Thought below.


Great stuff going on this weekend!

For Local History Buffs

Newburyport author Ghlee Woodworth discusses abolitionists and African-Americans in 19th century Newburyport, people like the grocer and gardener who were involved in the Newburyport underground railroad, local abolitionists such as Thomas Wentworth Higginson and some of the African-Americans who lived and worked in downtown Newburyport.

The talk takes place on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Cushing House Museum, 98 High St., Newburyport.  Admission is $10; members of the historical society are welcome for free. Seating is limited. To make a reservation or for more information, call the Historical Society of Old Newbury at 978-462-2681.

The program is part of a series presented by the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.

Reflections of Nature

New Hampshire photographer Dennis Skillman exhibits his nature shots in “Reflections of Nature” at the Laura Coombs Hills Gallery of the Newburyport Art Association.

An amateur naturalist and outdoorsman since his early days in the Pennsylvania woods, Skillman learned photography by reading, attending seminars and taking classes, and has been photographing nature for more than 30 years.  He is a member of the Newburyport and Seacoast art associations, the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists, the North American Nature Photographers Association and is a field contributor with Nature Photographer Magazine.

“Reflections” runs through Oct. 27 at the Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St., Newburyport. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.  For more information, call the art association at 978-465-8769 or visit

The Grandfather of All Vampires

“Dracula” swoops into Amesbury Playhouse on Wednesday night, making this the36th year the theater has presented the play adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel.

“Dracula” runs through Oct. 31 at the Playhouse at 194 Main St., Amesbury. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. There will be a weekday matinee on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m., and a special discounted kids matinee on Saturday, Oct. 23 at noon. A midnight performance is also planned for Saturday, Oct. 30, with doors opening at 11:30 p.m. Dinner is served 90 minutes before each performance, except for the Oct. 23 kids show and the Oct. 30 midnight showing.

Reservations are required and may be made by calling the Playhouse at 978-388-9444. Or visit for more information.

Haunted Trails, Maudslay State Park

Pantomimes of the spooky, eerie, and truly frightening will greet visitors around every turn at Newburyport’s Maudslay State Park in Newburyport next weekend as Theater in the Open presents its annual Halloween event.

A cast of all ages will serve up a variety of tricks and treats during an hour-long walk through the park along Curzon Mill Road. Geared for young and old, the family event is set for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. Rain dates are Oct. 30 and 31. Admission is $5; children under 3 are free.

For more on the haunted trails, call Theater in the Open at 978-465-2572 or visit

Annual Flying Pumpkin Festival

And you thought there were only flying monkeys.  Think again.  Pumpkins fly over Lake Gardner Beach on High Street in Amesbury on Sunday, Oct, 24, from 1 to 4 p.m.

A world-championship flying pumpkin catapult will be among the attractions of the family event. There will be a costume contest, bobbing for apples, face painting, live music, pumpkin decorating, antique cars, a bounce house, raffles and more. Refreshments will include doughnuts and cider from Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, baked goods, hot dogs, cotton candy, slush, popcorn and pretzels.

All proceeds benefit Coastal Connections based in Amesbury, an agency that provides an educational environment for encouraging life-long learning and assisting individuals in being essential members of the community. The festival rain date is Sunday, Oct. 31. Call 978-388-1119 for more information.

And continuing through October 31:  Castle of Fear

Winnekenni Castle on Kenoza Lake in Haverhill gets a visit from a spooky interior decorator on Friday, October 15, just in time for the castle’s annual Halloween Extravaganza featuring harrowing fun for the whole family! The castle and grounds will be being transformed into a Haunted Hilltop of Terror for the Halloween season.  Attractions in addition to the Haunted Castle include the Treacherous Tunnel of Terror and the Vile Vortex of Vertigo.

Castle of Fear is open 6:30pm-11pm on the following days: Wednesday-Sunday, October 20-24 and 27-31.  On Halloween Sunday, the Castle has extended daytime hours, opening at noon.  Admission to all venues is $18 per person or $50 for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children).

Winnekenni Castle is located at 347 Kenoza Avenue in Haverhill.  For more information about the castle or the Halloween events call 978-521-1686, or visit

A Different Kind of Frightening

When the results of last year’s state-sponsored school body-mass index screenings were released last month, the town learned that approximately 40 percent of its students had been classified as either overweight or obese.  No, that’s no typo: Forty Percent.  According to data collected from children tested in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10, students in several grades were tipping the scales to far surpass the national obesity average of 19 percent.

The Amesbury PTO wants to turn those statistics around.  Together with Heat Training, they have added a Cider Dash One Mile race and a Kids Fun Run to Sunday’s annual 5K Cider Mash Run through the picturesque apple orchards of Cider Hill Farm.

Local organizations and businesses have joined the effort: Anna Jaques Hospital has donated 150 pedometers, to be distributed to the first 150 students (K-grade 8) who sign up to run the Cider Dash One Mile.  Chartwells Food Services, provider of lunch services to Amesbury and surrounding towns, will be on hand serving up free food samples. Stoneyfield Farms and Cedars have donated yogurt and hummus snacks to give out on race day.  And Cider Hill Farm owner Glenn Cook will be showcasing his farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program and the benefits of buying and eating locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Exercising and eating well are practices near and dear to my heart, so lace up your running shoes and turn out along with me to get kids moving and eating for pleasure and lifelong good health.

The Cider Dash One Mile is open to all ages and costs $10 to register prior to race, $12 on race day. The Kids 1K Fun Run is free and will take place at 12:30 p.m. following the Cider Dash One Mile. Children from all communities and schools are urged to attend.

Both races take place at Cider Hill Farm, Fern Avenue, Amesbury, starting at noon.  Registration opens at 10 a.m., and tee shirts will be offered to the first 25 entrants.




Good Morning Gloucester brings you the best of Gloucester MA and surrounding communities. From the docks to the restaurants, the sporting fields to the art scene and anything in between, if it’s happening in Gloucester it’s generally covered on GMG.

Click here for Joey’s weekend picks



North Shore Dish spices things up with their weekend picks here North Shore Dish


Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers.


Abby shares her picks from 5th Joy.


Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.


Heather Atwood from the Gloucester Times has her picks at Food For Thought