Annual Community Events
The North Quabbin Community hosts a variety of Annual events. From celebrating the arts, sports and competitions, to live music performances and more, there is something for everyone. For this years dates, times and even more events check out our events calendar.
Starry Starry Night
Starry Starry Night is the North Quabbin region’s New Year’s Eve celebration, attracting area residents and acclaimed performers for the last 20 years. Set in downtown Orange and several prominent venues in the immediate area, Starry Starry Night offers a truly unique blend of free entertainment for all ages to enjoy. The musical lineup includes musicians specializing in jazz, Celtic folk, traditional folk, Americana, world music, and reggae/hip hop/funk. There are magicians, dancers, jugglers and stand up comics. And the fun doesn’t end there. Orange’s Memorial Park is the site of beautifully-crafted ice sculptures, and at the nearby Orange Fire Station participants can buy hot chocolate or sign up for a hayride. A grand puppet parade through downtown Orange, followed by a fireworks display set over the Millers River conclude the festive night.
Garlic and Arts Festival
September 24 & 25, 2016
Affectionately referred to as “the festival that stinks,” the Garlic and Arts Festival held every fall brings together North Quabbin agricultural vendors, local residents, and tourists from far and wide. Held at the spacious Forster’s Farm near Lake Mattawa in Orange, the festival attracts hundreds of vendors representing dozens of categories of goods including food, agricultural, crafts and art, affordable admission and entertainment, educational talks, and locally-grown food for attendees of all ages. The festival is an opportunity for area residents to support sustainable agriculture in the North Quabbin region and learn how to both reduce consumption and use renewable forms of energy. Organizers have made the festival almost entirely green through the use of recyclables and compostable items. The festival is attended by several thousand.
Orange Community Band Series
The Orange Community Band Summer Friday Concert Series is a summer tradition in the town of Orange. On Fridays during the summer months, local residents convene at the Butterfield Park bandstand to listen to the music of the Orange Community band and enjoy vendors and refreshments. Typically led by Master of Ceremonies Tim Sweeney, this free concert series is fun for everyone, young and old.
Tool Town Live & Friendly Town Live
Bearing the nickname of the town of Athol, Tool Town Live is an August and September concert series held at various outdoor venues such as the Athol Uptown Common and Fish Park; concerts move to the Athol Town Hall in the event of rain. Established in 2004, this string of free events features prominent area musicians and periodically books regionally-acclaimed talent. Past performers include local residents Ethan Stone, who is also the series’ director; Colin Boutwell, and Hillary Chase, as well as the regionally-lauded Zoe Darrow and the Fiddle Heads and the nationally-recognized Jonathan Edwards. The series kicks off in May and runs through June in Orange, affectionately nicknamed “Friendly Town.” The late spring early summer concerts are performed on the band gazebo in Butterfield park or in the Orange town hall in case of rain.
Orange Solstice Riverfest
This June event brings together residents and businesses throughout the North Quabbin region to celebrate the summer solstice. Held at Orange’s Riverfront Park, with the Millers River as a backdrop, the Orange Solstice Riverfest takes full advantage of its locale. Beginning in late afternoon attendees are treated to an array of spectacles including an illuminated parade of boats, floating fire pits in the river, and Jumptown parachute jumpers. In addition, the event features a bonfire and such activities as yoga by the water, pony rides, and rock climbing; area musicians and food vendors help contribute to the local feel. The Orange Solstice Riverfest was established in part to attract tourists to Orange and the entire North Quabbin region. Visitors are encouraged to spend the weekend at one of the region’s many campgrounds or bed and breakfasts. With stunning displays and fun for the whole family, this event is sure to leave a lasting impression on North Quabbin residents and tourists alike.
The River Rat Race & Big Cheese 5K
The River Rat Race is a one-of-a-kind canoe racing event along the Millers River, beginning in Athol and concluding in Orange. With a strong current and hundreds of canoes, the race presents a challenge to even the most-seasoned of canoe racers who must maneuver through a myriad of novice tandems. Every year in April entrants of all ages and abilities make the eight-mile trek from Athol to Orange. The 51-year-old race also attracts racers from throughout the Northeast and across the country. The weekend-long festivities begin in Athol with the Big Cheese 5K, a family-friendly road race to raise money for the North Quabbin Food-a-Thon and the Franklin County Health Care Corp. Meals on Wheels Walkathon. Following the 5K is the annual parade known as the River Rat Promenade. Throughout the weekend, Athol also plays host to a carnival near the race-launch site, and Orange holds a celebration at Riverfront Park, the site of the finish line. Quite possibly the most popular event in the North Quabbin region, the River Rat Race is a fun time for families and people of all ages.
Celebrate the Harvest
It’s the annual Celebrate the Harvest event at the Orange Airport. The Car Show and Craft Fair are open to the public with no admission charge. The day features the Craft Fair, the North Quabbin Cruisers Car show with well over 300 cars, and the multi-division, Celebrate the Harvest Parade, beginning at Witty’s Funeral Home proceeding north on South Main Street and then taking a right onto East River Street and ending at the airport. The day-long events Sunday are made even more spectacular by the 300-plus North Quabbin Cruisers Car Show. Many of the cars in the show roll out to be part of the Celebrate The Harvest Parade.The OBA sponsors their annual pumpkin carving contest (no age limit). There’ll be trophies for winners in these categories: Funniest, Scariest, Most Original, Painted, and Most Unique. You can find more information about the events at the OBA website: www.orangebusinessassoc.org
The Rabbit Run
The Rabbit Run combines competition and fitness with the superb scenery of the North Quabbin region, and in particular the Quabbin Reservoir. This 10K foot race and three-mile walk commences at the historic New Salem Common and continues through the Quabbin’s pristine woodlands. Entrants are divided into age groups, and prizes are awarded to the winners of each division. Open to people of all ages and fitness levels, the Rabbit Run also includes a lottery drawing for all participants, held after the completion of the race. This race through the Quabbin is professionally timed with Accu-Spec technology and benefits the Town of New Salem Playground Committee.
Tully Lake Triathlon
Tully Lake Triathlon is an intensive 17-mile competition set in and around Royalston’s 200- acre lake and campground. This October triathlon consists of a 5-mile canoe paddle, a 7.5 mile bike ride, and a 4.5-mile run. Those interested in participating can enter as individuals, or teams of two, three, or four people. As is the case with other outdoor events in the area, the natural scenery of the North Quabbin region is on full display in this recent addition to the fall slate of community events. Tully Lake Triathlon coincides with the final camping weekend of the season, and entrants, who receive a 20 percent discount on lodging, are encouraged to stay at Tully Lake Campground. The festivities also include a free concert following the culmination of the triathlon, assorted local food vendors, and an award ceremony.
Thanksgiving Harvest Festival
Since 2003, the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston has opened its doors to North Quabbin and North Central Massachusetts residents for a Harvest Festival in celebration of the Thanksgiving season. The festival features fresh crops and products for the Thanksgiving table, live music from noted area musicians, and countless farm-related activities and contests. Specifically, the Red Apple Farm holds an event dubbed the “Harvest X-Games;” this series of events is comprised of pole tossing and hay bale tossing, an archery turkey shoot, brewing competitions, and a 5K run/walk. In keeping with the theme of the holiday season, the Red Apple Farm offers half-priced admission for attendees who bring a non-perishable food donation. These donations are then used to support local food pantries. With low-cost admission and fun for all ages, the Thanksgiving Harvest Festival is a must-attend event.
The Engine-uity Show
Every summer since 1976, the Engine-uity Show has returned Orange to its roots for a weekend as the home of the country’s first automobile factory. The Orange Airport plays host to a vast presentation of antique engines, tractors, cars, trucks, steam engines, and machinery. Throughout the weekend, this event features a flea market, a live steam table, a kiddie tractor pull, a tractor parade, and a gas engine raffle; a petting zoo and ample food concessions round out the show’s amenities. With its wide-open space and pleasant scenery, the Orange Airport is an ideal venue for the Engine Show. Affordable admission and classic/modern vehicles to view and purchase make this event appealing to a broad audience.