Longtime tradition celebrates Hawley roots, fosters connections


For the Recorder

Published: 08-11-2023 7:41 PM

HAWLEY — A tradition dating back more than a century will continue to bring the town together on Sunday.

The Sons and Daughters of Hawley, the town’s historical society, will host its annual Hawley Day summer event at 10 a.m. at the Hawley Grove, 327 East Hawley Road.

“There’s not a lot of occasions where we come together as a community, and this is a nice time to do it,” said the group’s president John Sears. “That was the purpose of Sons and Daughters of Hawley when it was founded in 1900.”

The Sons and Daughters of Hawley formed and started Hawley Day in 1900 to protect the memory of Hawley while its population was plummeting, according to Sears. Between 1820 and 1970, Hawley residents left for the West “where there was better land, the city, where jobs were opening up,” and the old town common, the heartbeat of Hawley, “disappeared,” Sears said.

Referring to the historical society’s founders, Sears said, “They were involved in establishing [Hawley Day] because they loved the town and they wanted to maintain connections with it and relatives and friends that live there.”

Since 1900, Hawley Day has been a staple of Hawley summers, only skipping a year twice — once during World War II and once during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The celebration will kick off with a coffee klatch at the Hawley Grove at 10 a.m. After attendees sip coffee and snack on doughnuts, they will gather inside the meetinghouse at 11 a.m. to grieve community members who died this year during the Ceremony of Remembrance.

Next, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will hold its annual meeting to elect officers and reflect on accomplishments, including the creation of a book of paintings by beloved late art teacher Jennet Rich. Copies of the book will be available in the meetinghouse for participants to flip through her work, including the 30 paintings displayed at last year’s Hawley Day.

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To Sears, the book “was a way of preserving a part of our history, and celebrating it and bringing it alive and making it accessible to people.”

Small Change, a band from Charlemont, will cap off Hawley Day with its folk and bluegrass sound, serenading participants while they eat lunch on the front lawn. Although visitors are encouraged to bring their own main course, the Sons and Daughters will provide drinks, salads, side dishes and dessert.

Sears said the Sons and Daughters of Hawley holds social events like Hawley Day to continue threading the tie between the town’s community and its history.

“It’s a sense of people’s connection to the place. We have people whose families go way back to the origins of the town, like mine, and we have people who moved there this year, but people feel like it’s a special place,” Sears said. “They like to know where am I living, and what’s the history of this place, and how do we remind people of it?”

Other upcoming events

Coming up on Sunday, Sept. 10, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will also hold its annual Harvest Supper at Stump Sprouts, a cross-country ski area and retreat center. After guests eat dinner made with ingredients from local farms, Patti Steinman, education coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, will share the history and habitat of the Hawley Bog Preserve, coupled with photos of its plants by Springfield resident Phyllis Gotta. Registration is required by visiting sonsanddaughtersofhawley.org.