By ANITA FRITZ Staff Writer Published: 4/9/2021 6:03:36 PM
GREENFIELD — The city is abuzz each spring as it prepares for its annual Bee Fest. This year, though it will be largely virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is no different, particularly due to the unveiling of six large bee sculptures to kick off festivities. Since 2010, residents have attended the downtown festival, which was launched to raise awareness about the vital role bees and other pollinators play in the environment and their lives. According to founder and organizer Sandy Thomas, Bee Fest celebrates the contributions of Lorenzo Langstroth, pastor of the Second Congregational Church during the mid-1800s, who is known worldwide as the “father of modern beekeeping.” The Bee Fest took a pause last year amid the pandemic. Traditional children’s activities, displays, lectures, honey tastings and the pollinator parade had to be canceled, but organizers continued planning for 2021’s festivities. This year’s festival will offer new experiences to Greenfield residents and visitors beginning with the May 22 unveiling of six large bee sculptures painted by area artists. There will also be a rollout of guided tours of downtown bee-related features. Thomas said even though children’s activities and the parade will not be held because the pandemic is still an issue, there will be additional offerings throughout that week and beyond. Those will include the presentation of the annual Pollinator Awards. “We are excited to unveil the bees this year,” Thomas said. “These sculptures will brighten our downtown as colorful symbols of the industry and creativity that are Greenfield hallmarks.” “What better creature to inspire the arts community and to represent our spirit,” said Greenfield Gallery owner Rachael Katz, who designed the six large sculptures. Trained as a mechanical engineer, Katz said she knew how to work with squares and rectangles, “but not as much with the flowing shapes of the natural world, so I had a lot to learn.” Using a new suite of tools, she designed and 3D-printed a small bee sculpture prototype. Then, she proceeded to create a full-size pattern for “Beatrice the Bee” using foam and fiberglass. The bee project was initially funded by a grant to the Crossroads Cultural District Committee from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The project also captured the attention and imagination of local businesses and organizations, which agreed to sponsor production of the bees, while the Crossroads Cultural District Committee commissioned artists to paint them. Greenfield Savings Bank President and CEO John Howland was so inspired by the project, he drove the original bee sculpture out to Chicago in the back of one of the bank’s minivans to the company that would cast a mold for six heavy fiberglass copies. Times and locations of the unveilings will be announced closer to the date of the beginning of Bee Fest, as will details of the tours and other events planned during and following Bee Fest week, Thomas said. In the meantime, people should watch for the appearance of Greenfield Bee Fest bees on downtown lampposts that feature local sponsors. For more information, visit the Bee Fest website, which will launch soon, at greenfieldbeefest.org. Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or email@example.com.