Monday, September 25, 2017

This Year’s Fall Festivals

Autumn is here. The days are growing shorter, the nights are getting longer, and most mornings there is a chill in the air. It’s a long-held tradition in the fall to celebrate the harvest and acknowledge the change of seasons. Between now and Halloween there are a number of local fests and feasts, offering all sorts of activities for young and old. Think: hayrides, corn mazes, visits to the pumpkin patch, plus lots of locally grown food and freshly pressed apple cider. This sampling of nearby happenings is listed chronologically, by starting date. Read on, and mark your calendar!

Sauchuk Farm Corn Maze: Saturdays and Sundays 10-6, through October 29, plus special hours on Columbus Day and October 5, at 200 Center Street, Plympton. A giant corn maze, a small array of concessions, plus lots of child-friendly activities including a Corn Cannon, Duck Races, the Cow Train, Rat Rollers, Jumping Pillows, a Tug of War, all set in the middle of a corn field. Don’t miss the hayride to the Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch. For details, visit

Nessralla’s Farm Corn Maze: Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, 10-6, through October 29. Flashlight and Haunted Maze begin September 30. 139 Hemlock Lane, Halifax. Check out the hay bale pyramid, bouncy houses, hayrides, and concessions, plus the Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch. On Columbus Day weekend, this event features the largest pumpkin drop in Massachusetts, and offers an opportunity to ride a mechanical bull. For details, visit
5th Annual Duxbury Oktoberfest: Friday, September 29th, 6:30-10:30pm at 459 Washington Street, Duxbury. Part of the Duxbury Food & Wine Festival, this event takes place under a tent and features German and local craft beers and wine, a traditional Bavarian feast, and live music, plus contests for Best Dirndl and Lederhosen, Hefty Stein Holding, and Yodeling. For details visit
Weir River Farm Fall FestivalSaturday, September 30th from 10-4 at Weir River Farm, Turkey Hill Lane, Hingham. Hosted by the Trustees of Reservations, this annual event celebrates the harvest on one of the last working farms in town. Visit farm animals, ride a pony, climb aboard a tractor, and paint your own pumpkin. Hear live music, make a scarecrow, learn how to press apple cider, and play old-fashioned games like the potato spoon relay. Plus you can pick your own pumpkin and popcorn. Be sure to visit the food court and the farm stand too. For details, visit

10th Annual Harvest Moon Feast: Monday, October 2 from 6-9 pm at Mill Wharf Restaurant, Scituate Harbor. Support the Environmental Education programs of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association while sampling dishes prepared by the South Shore’s finest restaurants and caterers. This benefit event includes live jazz by the Lance Van Lenten Trio, beer and wine tastings, auctions, and a cash bar. For details, visit

OkTRAILberfest: Saturday, October 7, 2-6pm at 675 Long Pond Road, Plymouth. Join the Wildlands Trust to celebrate the great outdoors. The event includes live music, beer from Independent Fermentations Brewing, a German buffet from Farms to Forks, hikes, trail runs, yard games, contests, property tours, and more! All proceeds support the Youth Unplugged Initiative, connecting tomorrow's leaders to the natural world.

Harvest Hoedown: Saturday, Sunday and Monday, October 7-9, 10am-4pm at C.N. Smith Farm, 325 South Street, East Bridgewater. Family fun including Pick Your Own apples and pumpkins, live music, hayrides, moonwalks, pony rides, plus lots of food from the Farm Kitchen. For details, visit

14th Annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration – Saturday and Sunday, October 7 & 8 from 10-4 at 158 Tihonet Road, Wareham. Hosted by the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and Ocean Spray, this fun family event features juried crafters, a marketplace with over 40 vendors, live music, cooking demonstrations, helicopter tours, and much more. There are abundant activities for children, including pony rides, paddleboats, and a train. You can even don waders and stroll right into a bog full of cranberries! The perfect opportunity to experience a working cranberry bog at harvest time. For details, visit

New England Harvest Feast – Sunday, October 8 at 5:30pm (also October 29, and several dates in November) at Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Ave. Plymouth. Sit down to a 17th century meal featuring the finest food that the season has to offer, such as “Mussels Seeth’d with Parsley and Beer,” and “A Sweet Pudding of Native Corn.” Your modern host will guide you through the meal, during which you will have opportunities to converse with historians as well as visitors from the past. Plus psalms and songs! Reservations required. For details, visit

Mass Audubon’s 37th Annual Farm Day – Saturday, October 21, 10-4 at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, Winslow Cemetery Road, Marshfield. Mass Audubon’s annual event for families features tractor-drawn hayrides, owl demonstrations, live music, artisans such as blacksmiths, weavers and wood-turners, a fine arts and crafts show, children’s games and crafts, face painting, a giant hay maze, home-baked treats and other delicious food including hot fresh cider doughnuts. For details, visit

by Kezia Bacon
September 2017

Kezia Bacon's articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit To browse 20 years of nature columns, visit

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Pontoon Boat Cruise on the North River

Looking downstream from the bow of the pontoon boat.

If you’re reading this article, you are probably aware of the North and South Rivers -- two beautiful, healthy, tidal waterways whose watershed comprises much of the South Shore. Chances are, you’ve also spent some time there – perhaps by boat, or with a canoe, kayak or paddle board, or by walking in one of the numerous conservation areas that border them.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t. Whether paddling trips and hikes aren’t your thing, or you have other reasons for not being able to access the rivers, I have good news to share with you. There’s another option! The North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) now offers Pontoon Boat Cruises.

A pontoon boat is a motorized boat with a wide, flat deck, and plenty of room for upright seating. The deck is supported by two or three metal tubes (or pontoons), which provide flotation. While not the most aerodynamic, a pontoon boat moves quickly and deftly enough to provide a smooth, steady ride. The NSRWA’s boat – donated by a Marshfield family -- has comfortable bench seats in both the sun and the shade, all with a terrific view. Plus there’s no climbing – from the dock, you walk straight on and off the vessel. This is a very different experience from a kayak or a canoe.

Throughout the boating season (late spring til mid-autumn) NSRWA offers pontoon boat cruises several times per month. Each includes a licensed boat captain and a tour guide. You can choose the “Nature and History” themed cruise or just “Nature.” “Fall Foliage” and “River Wildlife” are other options. You can also charter your own.

In August, I signed up for one of the Nature and History-themed cruises. After registering online, I received my instructions, so I knew exactly where to park and what to bring. At 10:00am, I met my captain, guide, and fellow participants at Roht Marine, on the North River, on the Marshfield-Scituate line (Route 3A). After a brief safety overview, we were off.
I already knew a fair amount about the history of the North and South Rivers, but on the tour, I learned quite a bit more! Our guide explained how our region has changed since the last ice age – and how the rivers were formed. He discussed the first European settlers in our area and the ways in which they interacted with the native tribes who had been here for years. He explained salt marsh haying, and packet ships, and gave an overview of the local shipbuilding industry. He also discussed the ecology of the salt marsh, and pointed out some of the wildlife that make their home there. We saw marsh wrens, red tail hawks and osprey, and kept an eye out for bald eagles (they nest nearby.) There were maps and other visual aids to enhance the presentation, plus we were encouraged to “Ask anything.”

After an hour moving steadily upstream through gorgeous landscapes, we reached the Route 3 Bridge in Pembroke. The captain turned the boat around, and for most of our journey back to the starting point, we were encouraged to admire the view. This led to casual conversations among the participants and plenty more insights from the guide.

The 2-hour tour was extremely enjoyable. Time passed quickly. I found myself wanting to return, soon, with various friends and family members, especially those who aren’t inclined to experience the rivers in other ways. A Pontoon Boat Cruise would be a lovely way to mark a special occasion – a birthday or anniversary, for example, or a retirement. At $50 per person (for NSRWA members, $75 for non-members) it’s a bit of an investment, but well worth the cost.

If you’re interested in joining a Pontoon Boat Cruise, there are a number of them coming up this fall – nearly every weekend through the end of October. Most go upriver through Marshfield and Norwell, but some go downstream to The Spit. Visit for details and to register.

by Kezia Bacon
August 2017

Kezia Bacon's articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit To browse 20 years of nature columns, visit

A view from the stern of the pontoon boat.