The Berkshire Fools Festival Is No Joke
“April Fool’s Day is an unusual holiday because everyone knows when it is and what it’s about, but it’s fallen into disuse,” says Joe Durwin, one of the founders of the first annual Berkshires Fools Festival, which runs April 1 - 5 in Pittsfield. “We’re making it the holiday it deserves to be!” Organized by Pittsfield artists in their twenties and thirties (with enthusiastic encouragement from the city’s Office of Cultural Development), the festival includes art exhibits, lectures, performances and the “Spring Folly” costume ball. “The whole idea was to do something on the surrealist side and make it a collaboration among all the city’s arts organizations,” says Durwin, who notes that many of the organizers are Pittsfield natives in their twenties and thirties who left to go to college and have returned home.
The festival takes silliness seriously. The Berkshire Museum has agreed to host a mock exhibition called “Greasepaint Tears: A History of the Clown Wars,” which in the best “alternate history” tradition chronicles the feud between mimes and clowns in Pittsfield during the 1960s and 1970s. At the Zeitgeist Gallery, the exhibit “Michael Hitchcok: Man of the Future,” is an installation of the perfectly-preserved 2020 campaign office of the “most divisive and inclusive figure’ In American politics. For children, there will be Clown Games—relay races, unicycles, balloons and the de rigeuer face painting—on the Pittsfield Common as well as a performance by the Nutshell Playhouse and Clothespin Puppets at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The festival commences on April Fool’s day with the opening reception from 5 - 7 PM for the exhibition, “Wayne’s World,” which features surrealist collages—made from old National Geographics at the Ferrin Gallery. Click here for a complete schedule of events.
“Durwin promises that Friday night’s costume ball will be a cut above the typical (and ever more frequent) Berkshires costume party. “We’re going to have gypsies and men in armor. There will be great entertainment like Those Two Guys from Troy, New York,” says Durwin. “For just $10, you get great music to dance to and free candy and popcorn.” (Brix will run the cash bar.)
Pittsfield’s director of cultural development Megan Whilden is especially excited because she is not the event’s organizer. “What thrills me is that we have created an environment in Pittsfield where young artists can make things like this happen,” she says. “It’s an event that is being held for the joy of it. They say it is going to be the largest Fools Festival in the northeast.” She pauses and laughs,“Of course, I think it is the only Fools Festival in the northeast!”