Two of the youngest dancers delight the crowd at the 38th Festival, October 3, 1998. Photo: Peter MacDonald
Festival of the Hills (Conway)
In the hills of western Massachusetts,
eighty-five years ago, on July 3rd and 5th, 1915, the people
of Conway, Massachusetts, held a "Pageant of Patriotism in
honor of Independence Day and the 100 years of peace between
the United States and Great Britain." That event, so long ago,
was the inspiration for the revival of a Conway festival in
The renewed event, held to generate funds for
Conway's bicentennial in 1967, featured displays of works by local
artists, round and square dancing, and smorgasbord dinners. In
addition to highlighting local painters and craftspeople, the
Conway event soon utilized the talents of Conway's dancers,
singers, musicians and actors. The
Hill Town Talent Show debuted in 1964, and in its various forms since then -- skits,
one-act plays, stand-up comics, instrumental and vocal virtuosi --
has become an eagerly anticipated Festival event. In the years
since 1964, a 10K road race and parade have been added to the
Festival. Proceeds from the present-day Festival go into a Conway
Student Scholarship Fund; over the years, $30,000 has been awarded
to graduating Conway High seniors.
The Conway Festival of the Hills marked its 38th
anniversary with its October 3, 1999 event. Hundreds of people
lined Main Street, the town's historic district, to watch the
parade and enjoy food, fun, and music. In addition to arts, crafts,
road race, parade, and music, a replica of the old Conway Electric
Trolley took loads of the curious on a 30-minute trip along the
history-filled roads and ways of the town. There were the perennial
log-splitting, pumpkin-stacking, and skill-tossing contests, as
well as demonstrations of wool spinning, oxen driving, bee keeping,
and sustainable agriculture.
Project documentation comprises a history of the
event, 15 8 x 10 black-and-white photographs, news clippings, and
programs from 1991 - 1999.
Originally submitted by: John W. Olver, Representative (1st District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.