Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 06/07/06

Plenty of stuff is happening this weekend. Going straight to the weird, you can meet Henry Thoreau at The Old Manse this weekend. Thoreau is the Walden Pond guy you learned about in grade school. He’s dead but they’ll have a re-enactor. June 10th in Concord, 269 Monument St. 12pm-2pm.

If that’s not weird enough, how about the Boston Dragon Boat Festival, Sunday June 11th, 9am-5pm. It’s on the Charles River in Cambridge. Dance and music performances all day.

It’s the Lowell Comedy Festival,, Jun 8-11. I don’t know what to say about this, except that I wasn’t very impressed with the Lowell Folk Festival. Or Lowell in general.

Way out in Springfield, they are having the Big Y Annual Balloon & Music Festival at the “Big E”. June 9-11. I went last year and the Big E is pretty hokey but worth checking out once in your lifetime. This is a different event that happens to take place on the Big E fairgrounds.

While you are out west, check out the Pioneer Valley Renaissance Faire, June 11th, At the Amherst Town Common in Amherst, MA. 10am-6pm. Free.

Also the Boston Sport Kite Championships are June 9-11 at Millenium Park which is just off the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury. I’ve been before and it’s great fun. The kites have two strings so you can steer them. They have choreographed kite duets, kite fighting, etc. One secret about kites I learned when I went — the cheap kites you buy in a toy store don’t fly very easily for a novice. Go to a hobby store instead (they’ll have a few booths there) and ask for something appropriate for your level of skill.

The Irish Connections Festival is also this weekend, Jun 9-11, It’s at 200 New Boston Drive in Canton, which is off Rt 138. This is the largest Irish festival on the East Coast, with over 500 performers. I went last year and felt it was pretty hokey, unfortunately, although nothing could be as hokey as the Big E. Borderline worth checking out.

June 10th, which is Saturday, is the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival, at Beacon Street & Harvard Street in Brookline. There are many arts festivals throughout the summer. Basically about 80 artists set up tents and you can buy stuff. Not exactly worth traveling to see, but if you’re in the area, check it out.

I would much rather suggest you visit the DeCordova Museum’s Art in the Park Festival. June 11th (Sunday) only, 10am-5pm. at 51 Sandy Pond Road in Lincoln. The DeCordova is my favorite museum in the Boston area… they have fantastic sculptures and the museum itself is surrounded by a park dotted with more sculptures. This would be a great excuse to check it out.

If you have an excuse to visit Connecticut, see the New England Fiddle Contest,, June 10th in Bushnell Park in Hartford, CT.

Annie, the musical you love even though you may find the kid annoying, because dammit you could have been a child actor, is opening June 13th at the Opera House.

Last week I checked out indoor rock climbing in the Boston area. It turns out that there are two ways to do it. Way 1 is the serious indoor gym way. Unfortunately, you need a human to “belay” you — they basically hold the rope for you and take up the slack as you climb, so that if you fall you drop about 2 inches and you’re fine. Belayers at these gyms are few, so you need to plan 3-7 days in advance and reserve a spot. Another way to do it is to take a class, and then you and a buddy can belay for each other and you can come anytime (but you may have to become a member). Way 1 spaces follow: The world’s largest rock climbing gym is in Fall River, Carabiners,, 328 Parker Street. The closest ones to Boston are Boston Rock Gym,, 78G Olympia Ave in Woburn; MetroRock,, at 69 Norman Street in Everett. My pick would be the Oak Square YMCA at 615 Washington St. in Brighton, Basically at the YMCA you take one class for $50 and then you can come in and climb all you want. Also some of these gyms lead tours throughout New England, or check out a local college like MIT for their climbing club.

OK, so what’s Way 2? Way 2 is for explorers like me who are unlikely to ever go rock climbing and just want to try it in an amusement park atmosphere. I don’t want to pay a lot, basically I just want to go climbing. Well, it was raining on Friday so that ruled out the local amusement parks — Funway Cafe (Foxboro and East Bridgewater, and Starland (Hanover, MA, However! I discovered that a sports store, Dick’s Sporting Goods is both indoor and gives you the no-fuss Way 2 experience. It’s located at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, MA. 978-646-6400. The website doesn’t mention the rock climbing. The staff was really supportive and helpful. They give you climbing shoes, and there typically isn’t a line to wait, so you can just drop in anytime wearing anything. I got about halfway before my fingers gave out. Then two kids both climbed fearlessly to the top. As a self-confident male with no need to prove my masculinity, I explain this simply by the fact that the kids weigh less so probably they have more finger strength as a ratio to body weight. Are you buying this? 🙂

As I mentioned last week, it’s Pride Week, aka Gay & Lesbian & Others Pride Week. The big event of the week is on Saturday, June 10th, the parade and festival, and there’s a “block party” happening Sunday June 11th.

Finally, you are totally missing the Scooper Bowl (June 6-8), go check it out. See last posting.