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Moses Arnold was the first to memorialize the events that took place at Island Grove, and he was right to do so.

Slavery would one day prove to be the downfall of the young, otherwise idealistic United States, its crushing effects culminating in the horrific brother-against-brother Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Some knew early on that the practice was wrong. Scituate's Chief Justice William Cushing spoke out against it in the 1790s. By the 1830s, antislavery groups had formed in Massachusetts in attempts to get the practice abolished. That word formed the root of the cause: abolitionism.

William Lloyd Garrison led the charge, and at times he did so right here in Abington at Island Grove. The grove, surrounded on three sides by Island Grove Pond, would one day be known for picnics and baseball games and butterfly chasing. But in the years leading up to the Civil War, it was a gathering spot for  the abolitionists. They met here annually to speechify, to berate the United States for allowing the practice continue. At times, things turned violent and the anti-slavery types had to flee for their lives. But in the end they were vindicated, as President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in free U.S. territory. The slaves in the south, unless they could escape to the north or the Union captured the Confederate land on which they stood, had but to wait for Union victory.

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Moses Arnold, shoe factory owner, remembered those early days at Island Grove and paid for a tablet to be erected in their memory. Then, in 1912, Abington took things one giant step further. With the bicentennial of Old Abington upon them, the involved communities (the town once consisted of Abington, Rockland and Whitman) commissioned the construction of a bridge across the pond that would lead to an arch erected in memory of the soldiers and sailors of Abington who fought in the Civil War. That arch, topped by an eagle spreading its wings to the sky, still greets visitors today, a century after its dedication.

But there's more. During the summer, kids attend camp on the grounds where their great-grandparents played as children themselves. In the winter, the pond freezes and hockey pucks start to fly. Trails wander through the pine trees and from one corner of the grove it's possible to peek out at the Grand Army Hall, the gathering place for Abington's Civil War veterans for several decades beyond the signing of the truce at Appomattox.

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For Civil War buffs, it's a Massachusetts must. For all others, it's worth it just for the grandeur of the archway.

To find Island Grove, find Park Street in Abington for the back entrance, or Wilson Place for the most dramatic view of the bridge and the arch. The Moses Arnold monument is to the right of the bridge, the view of the Grand Army Hall to the left.

For more information:

Friends of Island Grove
Abington Park and Recreation
225 Central Street Rear
Abington, MA 02351
781-982-2125
www.friendsofislandgrove.com

 
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by John Galluzzo

From the moment one sets foot on the trails at Jacobs Pond, a hiker is surrounded by history. In most cases it's not eminently visible, but it's there.

The pond itself, 59 acres, shaped like a raindrop falling diagonally from the sky, is manmade. A dam at what is now Route 123 powered a mill at the busy Assinippi Village of yore. The corner today retains its reputation as a business hotspot, but with fewer blacksmiths, gristmills and dry goods retailers than it boasted a century ago. Before the stream was dammed, wet meadow and even forest stood where the pond now is. Proof? Stand on the dock and check out the tree stump in the middle of the pond. The eastern kingbirds and spotted sandpipers will show you where it is.

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Walking through the woods to the northwest, it's hard not to come up against the farming history of the land. Stonewalls run through the forest, back and forth. Every time a walker crosses over one, a farmer of the olden days rolls over in his grave. Even the trees tell us that this was not that long ago. Their minimal girth reminds us that they are indeed quite young. When we do find an ancient specimen, it's usually standing guard at the edge of one of those stonewalls, a boundary marker between one farmer and the next, perhaps meant to provide shelter for cattle on hot days.

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But as one turns the corner to the northern end of the pond, deep history presents itself, glacial history. The pleasantly wooded trail suddenly descends to a low point and turns from soft, even dirt underfoot to a jumble of large rocks, glacial erratics carried from afar and left here 11,000 years ago. Lost in the vision of this place is the primordial sound. Today, these rocks rest quietly, populating the forest like the domestic cattle once did the fields that surrounded the pond. But what did it sound like when it formed? Did they all come tumbling together, or as the glacier melted did each fall individually, partaking of its own moment of glory?


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Navigating through the boulder train, one comes finally to the crowning feature, the esker. As the glacier was in its heyday, rivers of outwash formed under it, filling with sand and gravel. When the glacier melted, those materials remained in place, leaving a long, winding, snaky, raised ridge called an esker. The trail atop it runs at times ten to fifteen feet above the forest floor below it to each side. Bald when it began, it's now studded with small trees that, because of the way water runs off it, show exposed tangles of roots like we generally never see them elsewhere, making for interesting footfalls no matter where one steps.

Nature shares its secrets with those of us willing to listen, and there's some good listening to be had in all 189 acres of the Jacobs Pond Conservation Area.

Off Jacobs Lane in Norwell, across from the South Shore Natural Science Center.

For more information:
Town of Norwell Conservation Commission
345 Main Street
PO Box 295
Norwell MA 02061
781-659-8022

http://www.townofnorwell.net/public_documents/norwellma_conservation/trailslink/jacobspond18Mar06.pdf


 
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All Aboard for Carver's Edaville USA
by John Galluzzo

"Edaville," as it's always been known, was around when I was a kid, and I have a vague recollection of my mother saying that sometime we might, possibly, could go there. I don't know if we ever did. I feel like if we did, I might remember it.

But here we are, a generation later, and the whole allure of trains has changed for kids. Four year-olds today are brought up on Thomas and His Friends, the stories created by a British reverend decades ago, now made into CGI cartoons for kids around the world. A couple of times a year, Edaville hides its own trains and hops aboard the Thomas one. And I mean that literally.

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               But if you play your cards right, the ride with Thomas is the cherry on top of an already great day at Edaville. Purchasing tickets well ahead of time gives families the option to take, say, a 2 p.m. train ride. Arrive early, grab lunch, see the grounds, and end the day with the "Number 1 Blue Engine." Through the eyes of a four year-old, Edaville is a little slice of locomotive heaven.
                First, there is the meet and greet with Sir Topham Hatt, the man who keeps the engines running on time on Thomas' Island of Sodor. And then there's the indoor play area, Ellis' Playhouse. Run some remote control trains, or play with the wooden versions on the train track tables. And believe me when I say it, the opportunities to purchase mementos from the day are never that far away. Thomas is a well-branded and marketed little steam engine.

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Back outside, there's an old carousel that just keeps on spinning, year after year, and an old painted sign of a teddy bear wearing a local sports team logo with a sign that says "Maybe next year," offering a chuckle for the dads. There are more play traditional outdoor play areas, some smaller kid-friendly amusements, a storyteller's tent and a cafe, but when the call goes out, you'd better be ready. Seating is first-come, first-served once you get through the gate, and it can get crowded in the cars. But just watch the expression on your little one's face once the ride begins. You know it's the same train pulling the same cars around the same track as any other day, but to him or her, it's Thomas. No ifs, ands or buts about it: it's him.

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It can be a lot for a little one to take in, and the walk back to the car can soon become a piggyback ride. Depending on how far you have to travel, you might get some quiet time, as chances are, especially on a hot day, it all becomes too much, and exhaustion sets in. But know that your children are sleeping the sleep of the triumphant. When they awaken, they get to tell friends, "I rode Thomas!"

Using GPS, enter 5 Pine Street, Carver, Massachusetts

"Day Out with Thomas" scheduled for August 31-September 2, and September 6-8, 2013

For more information:
Edaville USA
508-866-8190
info@edaville.com
www.edaville.com
www.facebook.com/edavilleusa


 
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Kayaking the North River 
Marshfield, Scituate, Hanover and more
by John Galluzzo

Oh, there are logistics to consider, as with any on-the-water experience, and we don't mean just packing enough food and water for a few hours' excursion. You'll want to check the tides, as you really want to move with them. And you'll want to arrange for a car at either end of the journey. That means two people, and it's certainly the way that the river should be experienced anyway.

The river, by the way, is the North River, and it has lived many lives. We don't know much about its history with the local Native American tribes - although an 11,000 year-old axe head was discovered just above its banks not that long ago - but due to the river's historic natural abundance, we can guess at it. Anadromous fish, those species that can live in both salt and fresh water, have long called it home, though "our" actions, those of the European settlers who began visiting in the early 1600s, have caused longterm damage. We built dams that blocked the fish from returning to spawning grounds, and as such, we have endangered populations. So it's not the same river today that the early settlers of "Satuit" first saw.

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As you paddle in the silence, know that there once was motion and even commotion. Arrows and musket fire sailed from side to side during the time of King Philip's War. A mock battle between Massachusetts' militia and those of other states was decisively fought right over the Old North River Bridge at the beginning of the twentieth century. More than 1000 wooden sailing ships were built on the banks between 1690 and 1870, including some of the most famous vessels in American history. Today, signs marking the sites of the shipyards silently stand where once there was the sound of industry - saws, adzes, hammers, gruff foremen's voices...

The river is laden, too, with historic names like "The No Gains" and "Rocky Reach." The remains of a corduroy road remind us of oxen teams that helped kedge ships to sea. The water rushes through the supports of the Old North River Bridge, shooting one through on a momentary pulse-quickening ride. And the wildlife of the river, the Marsh Wrens, the White-tailed Deer and, at times, even the Bald Eagles, make regular appearances.


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The staff members of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association watch over the river as they would their own babies. They protect it from pollutants, and promote it for its natural and historic beauty. They also hold the best map, the best kayaking information and more. Contact them when you visit Plymouth County, if it's on the river you wish to be. And don't forget to pack that food and water.

Canoe and kayak access in Marshfield, Scituate, Hanover, Pembroke and Norwell


For more information:
North and South Rivers Watershed Association
781-659-8168
samantha@nsrwa.org
www.nsrwa.org 


 
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by John Galluzzo
Sometimes, the military is the best thing that happens to a place.
                
That comment, of course, has to be taken with a grain of salt. Our military, sadly, has a history of taking land, using it for its purpose, then walking away, leaving the land itself usually worse for wear. But most of those wounds can heal. And in this case, had the military not taken the land, it would probably have ended up developed like any other residential neighborhood.

Wompatuck State Park in Hingham (and slightly in Cohasset and Scituate) is such a place. The process started elsewhere in town, when, after the Spanish-American War, former Massachusetts Governor and Hingham resident John Davis Long selected the area now known as Bare Cove Park to be the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot, a place to store munitions for quick deployment overseas. By the time World War II came along, more room was needed. More than 25 homes were taken by eminent domain in what is now Wompatuck; that combined land became the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot Annex.

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So, what may seem like a nice hike in the Wompatuck woods can have much deeper impact. Many of the foundations of the homes taken in World War II remain visible from the trails. The paved trails, themselves, hearken back to the military's days, when jeeps and trucks zoomed about the 3500 or so acres. And if you see a large, too-perfectly trapezoidal lump rising out of the earth as you walk, well, you're seeing an old ammunition storage bunker, now sealed shut permanently.

The military left a long time ago, and thanks to the federal government's Lands to Parks program borne of the 1970s, the land began to restore itself. Wompatuck State Park - named for Josias Wompatuck, a seventeenth century Native American who oversaw the local lands - is now one of the region's most prized open spaces.

What to do there? Hiking is an easy one, with miles of trails ranging for shoulder-width footpaths to roads designed for military vehicles. Biking is safe and easy, too. There's a fantastic campground on site, and a natural spring with water almost always flowing. And there's more to look out for.

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What to do there? Hiking is an easy one, with miles of trails ranging for shoulder-width footpaths to roads designed for military vehicles. Biking is safe and easy, too. There's a fantastic campground on site, and a natural spring with water almost always flowing. And there's more to look out for.

Check out the ponds, and know that for the most part they stand today because they were formed to power mills centuries ago. Watch for the miles of stonewalls, and imagine what the place looked like when the land was cleared for farming. And listen for the sounds of the deep forest birds, the eastern wood-pewees, the veeries and the lone known pileated woodpecker pair on the South Shore.

Then wonder what it must have been like to live in this place centuries in the past, long before the Navy came along.

204 Union Street, Hingham
For more information:
Wompatuck State Park
781-749-7160
http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-south/wompatuck-state-park.html


 
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Daniel Webster's Farm
by John Galluzzo


Daniel Webster, the great statesman and orator, once owned a large swath of Marshfield land, but not just because he wanted to prove his worth to folks on the outside. He was a "gentleman farmer" when not speechifying or otherwise doing the work of the federal government, at times an experimenting farmer. He walked his land with none other than John James Audubon, to understand and enjoy the wildlife living thereon.


A century and a half removed from his passing, Webster's land - at least 500 acres of it - has been preserved as open space, purchased by Mass Audubon, New England's largest land conservation organization and maintained much in the same way that Webster kept it, save for one small fact.

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The Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary is a polder, a place that is below sea level. In olden days - Webster's days - when the tide rushed in and up the Green Harbor River, the low spots of what is now the sanctuary flooded, leaving only certain points like Fox Hill high and dry. But Marshfield installed a dike a few decades after Webster's death, to the consternation of the local fishermen, and dried the land out for good. Today it's one of the last remaining major grassland complexes in southeastern Massachusetts.

And that's what one mostly sees on the two miles of walking trails that meander through the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary. There are two red maple swamps, a raised oak hummock, Webster Pond, the Green Harbor River and a manmade "wet panne" complete with bookending observation blinds, but the grasses are the star of the show.


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Those grasses bring in species of birds that cannot thrive anywhere else, Bobolinks travel from as far away as Argentina each spring to breed at the sanctuary, and it's one of the few spots to catch a glimpse of an Eastern Meadowlark, if you're lucky enough. And those grasses, because they grow so tall before late summer haying, are the perfect hideaway for breeding mice and voles, at least until the whole system dies back in winter. When those rodents get exposed, the hawks and owls move in. The lost of owl sightings each year includes Great Horned, Eastern Screech, Saw-whet, Barred, Long-eared and Short-eared. Hawks, too, find plenty of sustenance on the property, from Red-tailed to Red-shouldered and beyond.

As you walk the land today, know that Daniel Webster would be proud to see his land so preserved - even if he might not recognize it in its current conditions!

End of Winslow Cemetery Road, Marshfield

For more information:
Mass Audubon South Shore Sanctuaries
781-837-9400
northriver@massaudubon.org
www.massaudubon.org/northriver
www.facebook.com/massaudubonsouthshore


 
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Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
By: John Galluzzo

It's easy enough to hop on a whale watch boat and just enjoy the fun, trusting in the captain to bring you to the right place. There's no real need to know exactly where one is when the whales arrive, right? After all, it's all just water.

Isn't it?

Well, actually, there's some underwater biogeographic magic at work. If you're leaving from Plymouth Harbor by boat, you will most likely visit one of the top ten whale watching destinations in the world, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

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Stellwagen Bank is an underwater plateau, a place where deep water currents  push nutrient-rich waters to the surface. Small fish, like sand lance, gather by the hundreds of thousands attracting myriad other links in the food chain. Terns, small coastal dwelling birds, join the many species of gulls that frequent the New England coast, in the feast. So do the whales. While many different whale species  feed near the bank, it's the humpback whales that steal the show. Once hunted extensively, humpback whales have gone from prey to entertainer.

The transformation took place in the 1970s when Massachusetts boat owners gambled that people would be willing to board their vessels for the chance to just see whales in their natural habitat. That hunch spawned a multi-million dollar industry. The timing coincided with the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Sanctuary system. Think of them as seaborne National Parks, America’s ocean treasures with protections not given elsewhere, preserving wildlife and archaeological sites for future generations.

The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s designation by Congress in 1992 officially recognized this special place off our coast for its research potential, industry (the fish populations also thrive in the special conditions of Stellwagen Bank) and recreation. It's 842 square miles in size, and just loaded with seals, basking sharks, fin and minke whales, bluefin tuna, Wilson's storm-petrels and more. It is teeming with life on the wing and in the water.

But the fun of Stellwagen Bank sanctuary doesn't end when one steps back on the pier at Plymouth. Sanctuary staff creates and runs education and outreach programs throughout the year, and has recently created the "Fathom That!" audio tour and QR tag trail, reaching from Gloucester to Provincetown; check out the South Shore YMCA in Hanover or the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell for examples (bring your smart phone, if you have one).

Stellwagen Bank sanctuary's tale is told in shipwrecks and flukes, in swarms of shearwaters and schools of cod, and it's rewritten every day.

Best accessed by private boat or one of the many whale watches leaving Plymouth Harbor


For more information:
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
781-545-8026
stellwagen@noaa.gov
www.stellwagen.noaa.gov
www.facebook.com/sbnms
Fathom That! Audio tour #: 781.304.1013
Fathom That! Mobile website: http://bycell.mobi/wap/site/stellwagen


 
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Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Wareham
By: John Galluzzo

It's been five years since I started conducting regular breeding bird circle counts on Mass Audubon sanctuaries. To some, it might be boring, perhaps a bit on the impossible side. It's takes a special skill, for sure, the ability to hear and translate the songs of the regular birds that appear in our many Plymouth County habitats. In a place like Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham, where I've been counting for two years, that's doubly important, as the habitats go from high and dry (the tops of hills) to downright wet underfoot (a marsh on Bass Cove, which spills into Buzzards Bay). To me, there's no better way to spend a morning. It's just me, the rising summer sun, and the sounds of the awakening Plymouth County forests.

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A short walk at Great Neck is much like many short walks on Cape Cod. There are 2.5 miles of trails, including many ancient carriage roads that wind past and through stonewalls built by settlers in the 1600s. Ephemeral wildflowers are just now starting to fade. They capture the sun they need for the year during the early days of spring, before the canopy is fully leafed out, burst into color, then retreat for the darker days, ready to return again the following spring. Pink Lady's Slippers, I'd say, are my favorites, but the Starflowers come in close second. 

But there's always something to see, at every turn. Highbush Blueberries are flowering, and will soon begin to produce fruit, as will the Huckleberries. The Osprey Overlook is perfectly named. An Osprey nesting platform across Bass Cove is occupied every year from March to September, and this year is no exception. As for my surveys, to this point I've recorded about two dozen species of birds that are probably nesting on the property, from Baltimore Orioles to Barn Swallows to Fish Crows. But Great Neck is not just for the birds in summer; on winter walks I've spooked Great Horned Owls in the middle of the day.


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The property represents an important change in the way we look at protecting land, too, as it's a novel partnership between a religious organization, the federal and state governments and Mass Audubon, the largest conservation organization in New England. Together, they possess the necessary tools to properly protect the land - and its wildlife inhabitants - well into the future.

So, whenever I'm in Wareham, I make time for Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. As with many natural places, it holds ever-changing surprises, and no walk is ever the same as the last.

Trails open dawn to dusk

Stockton Shortcut, Wareham

For more information: 
Mass Audubon's South Coast Sanctuaries
508-636-2437
allenspond@massaudubon.org 

 
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History Will Come to Life at Scituate Lighthouse
Cedar Point, Scituate
John Galluzzo

Lighthouses have grabbed our fancy across the country, in their many shapes, sizes, color schemes, flash patterns and histories. We've come to embrace their heroes, lament lives lost in the line of duty, and celebrate their triumphant tales.

Scituate Light, at just more than 200 years old, has stories to tell.

The best may have happened right at the beginning. The light had just been built in 1811, the year before the official start of the War of 1812. Simeon Bates was keeper, and apparently quite the patriot. When a British warship appeared off the coast, he fired at it, with a little signal cannon kept at the light. The British retaliated by burning the harbor - its boats, its buildings, its foodstuffs and supplies. Then they went away.

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According to local lore, they returned a few months later, but Keeper Bates was not around, in town to buy supplies for his family. Two daughters, Abigail and Rebecca, saw the British launch longboats from a warship and start to row for shore. Thinking quickly they grabbed a fife and drum, playing the mustering music of the local militia (most accounts say "Yankee Doodle"), hiding either behind the Sand Hills, the cedar trees that gave Cedar Point its name, some say the lighthouse. They played with all their might, and as the British came closer, the sound got louder. When convinced an entire opposing army awaited them ashore, the British retreated to their ship and sailed away. The girls became known as the "American Army of Two," and have been lauded in children's story books through time.

Whether or not the story is true is not known, but don't tell the people of Scituate that; they love Abigail and Rebecca like Bostonians love Paul Revere. As such, don't be surprised when in the fall of 2014 the Scituate Historical Society announces plans to reenact the "Army of Two" story. All they need is a drum. They have the original fife.

Scituate Lighthouse is on the short list of maritime history must-see sites in Plymouth County, a place where the boat traffic never seems to end, so there is always something on the move. The light has so many more stories to tell: visits from the Flying Santa of the Lighthouses, the 1956 wreck of the Etrusco, even the Jug-in-the-Chimney house legend - but that one is for another day.

Exterior open year-round; tours by appointment or on specially designated days

100 Lighthouse Road, Scituate


For more information: 
Scituate Historical Society
781-545-1083
director@scituatehistoricalsociety.org
www.scituatehistoricalsociety.org 

 
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The A.D. Makepeace Company will host its first annual Cranberry Blossom Festival on Saturday, June 29,   featuring a grower-guided tour of cranberry bogs in bloom. 

The tour is a unique opportunity for locals and visitors to view the beauty of the bogs in one of the most picturesque and important times of year. This agricultural experience covers the history of cranberry growing, the importance of pollination, the growing needs for each season, and allows for plenty of photographs, questions and answers.  

Guests will be transported to the cranberry bogs by bus, therefore, seating is limited. The one-hour tours will take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Limited walking is required.  The fee is $5 per person, children  under 7 free. To register in advance go to www.tihonet.com.

Other activities will be offered in Tihonet Village, a self-guided nature walk, a selection of vendors, live entertainment and a cranberry-apple pie eating contest sponsored by Makepeace Farms. Children will enjoy old fashioned games such as a hay bale maze, paddle boat rides and face painting are also offered for a nominal fee.  

The annual “Make it Better with Cranberries” cookbook release ceremony will take place at noon in Box Mill Hall.  The ceremony celebrates the winning recipes from the 2012 cooking contest featured in the 2013 cookbook. The publishers, Yolanda and Edward Lodi from Rock Village Publishing, will introduce each recipe and author.   A small sampling of select recipes will be featured.

Makepeace Farms in Tihonet Village will be open and offering a fine selection of cranberry products, fresh baked goods, lunch specials, unique New England inspired goods and $1 ice cream cones.  Makepeace Farms’ Produce Wagon will be introduced with a selection of seasonal local produce and cranberry plants for your home.

Make it a LOCAL DAY!  After your Blossom experience, visit our friends at the Old Company Store, nearby at 5 Elm Street, Wareham, for their 20th birthday celebration.  

The Cranberry Blossom Festival will be held on Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the A.D. Makepeace Company headquarters in Tihonet Village, 146 Tihonet Road, Wareham.  Admission and parking are free; some activities have fees. Cranberry Bog Tours are $5 per person to register in advance visit www.tihonet.com

The A.D. Makepeace Company operates the largest cranberry farm in the world and is a member of the Ocean Spray Grower Owned Cooperative.

A.D. Makepeace Company 
158 Tihonet Road 
Wareham, MA 02571
(508) 295-1000

    Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Located in America's Hometown, Plymouth, MA, Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau promotes 28 communities with something for everyone! 

    Nestled between Boston and Cape Cod, Plymouth County is the quintessential New England destination. From historical sites to whale watching and water sports to golfing and hiking.

    Each season brings another reason to visit!

    Plymouth County...where history is just the beginning of a great getaway boasting a blend of history, recreation, arts and culture, as well as lodging, dining, and shopping. 

    Visit TODAY!

    www.SeePlymouth.com 

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