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On the Front  Porch

On the Front Porch

at the Red Lion Inn

by KATHRYN BOUGHTON

Once upon a time, in a realm far, far away, Americans came home from work, ate a homecooked meal and sat on their front porches to visit with friends and family. It is a convivial picture largely lost in the all-encompassing advance of technology and expanding work schedules.

Today, the front porch is largely a decorative adjunct to the house, little visited by Americans—with one notable exception. The gracious front porch of the venerable Red Lion Inn is a constant lure for visitors to the town, beckoning with a chance to sit back, relax with a cool drink and watch the passing cavalcade.

This summer, the Inn—first established in 1773 and which has counted five presidents, famous authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, playwright Thornton Wilder, actors such as John Wayne, and even singer-songwriter Bob Dylan among its patrons—has added even more to the allure of the porch. A series of performances on the porch have been scheduled as well as opportunities to sample different libations.

Today (July 25) is the ideal time to sample white wines in the comfortable environs of the porch. A pop-up bar will encourage guests to branch out and try a selection of lesser-known white wines, such as Fiano, Assyrtiko, Carricante and Torrontes. Visitors will be invited to sample the different drinks, chosen by Red Lion Inn sommeliers Dan Thomas and Tim Eustis, to buy a glass or a bottle, grab a seat and enjoy late afternoon in the Berkshires.

On Tuesday, July 31st, 12–1PM, visitors will be introduced to a different kind of experience. The Hancock Shaker Village, another Berkshire County institution located in nearby Hancock MA, will send representatives to the Inn to perform Shaker songs and dance. Viewers will be invited to join in.

The Shakers, a celibate society that believed in communal living, had their own iconic singing and dancing. Many Shaker melodies, such as Simple Gifts—“’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free, ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be”—are of extraordinary grace and beauty, and have passed from the religious sect into the common vernacular.

Their precisely choreographed dances are less well known, however. Included in their religious services, they separated the sexes into opposing lines with movements that mirrored the words to their hymns. Advancing back and forth, stamping feet, waving arms and singing they would increase the tempo until their dances became vigorous paeans to their creator.

Moving into August, the mood will change in collaboration with another Berkshire County staple, Shakespeare & Company, which is located in Lenox MA. Actors from the company will perform a scene from Love’s Labor Lost, one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies on August 8th, 5-6PM. This event will be paired with a second pop-up bar and from 4:30-6:30PM visitors can sample rosés from around the world while enjoying the show.

One of the most significant figures in 20th-century Stockbridge history was illustrator Norman Rockwell, who lived in the town for the last 25 years of his life. A museum honoring the artist’s legacy was built in 1969 and houses not only a noteworthy collection of his works, but also the transplanted studio in which he created them.

On August 17th, from 12- 1PM, the inn will pay homage to Rockwell with a reading from his autobiography by museum docent and former radio broadcaster, George Church III. The presentation will include excerpts on the Four Freedoms, Rockwell’s renowned depictions of American rights.

August 21st and 22nd bring back-to-back events. Tuesday, August 21st, 12- 1PM, Jacob’s Pillow will present Brazilian Fusion Tap Dance with Felipe Galganni. Galganni is a tap dancer, teacher and choreographer known for his versatility in blending American tap dance with his Brazilian roots. He will perform the full show on the Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow on August 22st.

On August 22nd, at the Inn, visitors can sample a menu of specialty gin and tonics made from craft distillers, premium tonic and fresh local ingredients. This pop-up bar will also be offered from 4:30-6:30PM.

Representatives from the Hancock Shaker Village return on August 30th, 5-6PM for more singing and dancing.

Also new this summer, the Inn is offering guests a roundtrip shuttle to Tanglewood. For more information and to make advance shuttle reservations/payment click here or call 413-298-5545. Shuttle service is subject to availability.

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