Observing Village Life / New Burgy Thursdays

There’s great excitement in Williamsburg this year in the form of a new village farmer’s market. Burgy Thursdays start Thursday, May 12th extending into late October. The market’s unique feng shui setting is on Meekins Library’s Riverside lawn—where a recently rescued cast iron Victorian fence traces the racing Mill River’s graceful bend.

Burgy Thursday’s market promises the highest quality fresh local produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, flowers, baked goods, maple products, live music and more: 2:30-7 p.m.

        I like living in Williamsburg, a town of twenty-five hundred souls, counting the adjoining village of Haydenville. We spent our first forty years of married life in the city of Northampton, which, thanks to its daily newspaper, continues to inform our lives. As a born and bred “Hamp” native, I never had strong feelings about Burgy or its inhabitants.

Growing up devoted to Northampton, Burgy was seldom on our radar. That their trolley car was, “The Burgy Bullet” induced a smile for its dry Yankee humor; we liked that the name endured on buses; but seldom visited the town at the end of the line.

A growing movement is afoot to return to that simpler model of living enjoyed by our ancestors. Today’s Williamsburg is innovating its way to a modern model village.    To build requires a foundation. Williamsburg has a strong one. Town taxpayers support a local elementary school and regional high school. Meekins is both our school Library and the town’s cultural heartbeat, with a community room, frequent readings, and Internet access. Thousands patronize Meekins every month.

The town’s professional police force works under Chief Denise Wickland; its trained volunteer fire department responds to Chief Donald Lawton.

Haydenville & Williamsburg’s retail base starts at Bread Euphoria’s Bakery and dining room on the hill across from Beaver Brook Golf Course. In Haydenville The Blue House and Ross Bros. Antiques are neighbors to two thriving churches: Our Lady of the Hills and Haydenville Congregational. Williamsburg’s Town Hall is in Haydenville. Its town offices and Council on Aging meals and activities insure a lively atmosphere.

Keep going past the charter school in the Brass Works. Slow as you round a Mill River bend near McFadden’s Irish Pub, go past the veterinary clinic to the Village Green Garden and ice cream shop. Next-door is the Williamsburg Snack Bar.

Over the bridge into Williamsburg proper: on the right is our hardware store and pharmacy, also Panda Garden and a hairdresser. Cumberland Farms gas station, mini-mart and Dunkin Donuts allow drivers to top up stomachs and empty wallets in one stop.        In the next block are Main Street Package and A-1 Hilltown Pizza restaurant and take-out emporiums. Ahead is the town’s handsome centerpiece.

Ka-boom! You’re in Burgy: Big Mamou’s Cajun restaurant is on your right, the Williamsburg General Store to your left. Blink, and you’re at the Williamsburg Market, Meekins Library and Florence Bank corner. You’ve arrived! If you’ve timed it right the Williamsburg Congregational Church carillon may herald your coming in song.

You can’t miss The Brewmaster’s Tavern, long famous as the Williams House. Go further up the hill to discover Pat’s Package store with its eclectic country wares.

Longtime Valley residents know the pioneer’s tale about The Angel of Hadley. Today’s Williamsburg has its own gardening angel, Nick Dines. Nick’s an emeritus UMass professor of landscape architecture who, like New England poet Robert Frost, knows his plants and walls. Nick’s built poems welcome visitors as hardscape in the form of Goshen stonewalls and walkways. His walls create sun-warmed garden invitations to Meekins’ Library. Behind the General Store is the Quiet Reflections Garden of memorial bricks, flowers, and benches dedicated to family and friends gone before. Pause nearby at Burgy’s war memorial honoring those who’ve served our country.

In every season, drive slowly through the village to be surrounded by Dine’s imaginative visions. From end to end his curbside plantings beautify the town center.

Summer, winter, autumn and spring are celebrated from the ground up. Eye level daylilies decorate summertime roadways, helping winter blues to melt away. The pocket gardens in front of the bank and market provide colorful portals wherein bees work their magic as passerby trek by on less important errands. Please stop and smell the flowers.

To me, Burgy Thursdays will offer one more reason to enjoy our beautiful village of Williamsburg, Hampshire County’s prettiest village for a walkabout and a meal.

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