Howdy Awards Nominations

Through March 1: After a two-year delay caused by the pandemic, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) announced that the 2022 Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence will be held on Monday, May 16 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The Howdy Awards were first celebrated in 1996, designed to acknowledge the essential role that superior customer service plays in creating positive visitor encounters, and encouraging return trips, glowing online reviews, and positive word of mouth. Thus, Wydra pointed out, the 2020 event would have formally marked the prestigious program’s 25th anniversary. Anyone can nominate a candidate who’s demonstrated outstanding customer service in the categories of Accommodations, Beverage, Attractions, Banquet, Food Casual, Food Tableside, Public Service, Retail, and Transportation. Nominations must be received by Tuesday, March 1. Enter online at


Nominations for 2022 Ubora and Ahadi Awards

Through March 31: The Springfield Museums announced a call for nominations for the 31th annual Ubora Award and the 12th annual Ahadi Youth Award. These prestigious awards, conferred by the African Hall Subcommittee, honor African-American people from Greater Springfield who have — above and beyond — demonstrated commitment to the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts. The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The nomination deadline for both awards is Thursday, March 31. True to the Swahili word that comprises its name, the Ubora Award recognizes an adult of African heritage who exemplifies excellence in their commitment to creating a better community through service. In 2021, the Ubora Award was given to Robert “Cee” Jackson as an exemplary philanthropist and humanitarian. Named for the Swahili word for promise, the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African-American who excels in academics and performs admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12. In 2021, the Ahadi Award honored Tigist Dawit Terefe for her remarkable civic-minded volunteerism and outstanding academic record. The Ubora and Ahadi awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September. Nominations forms can be downloaded by visiting Nominations may be e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to African Hall Subcommittee, c/o Karen Fisk, Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, MA 01103.


Black Experience Summit

Feb. 17: In celebration of Black History Month, Elms College will hold its fifth annual Black Experience Summit from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event is hosted by the Elms College President’s Office and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Due to COVID-19 protocols, this event will be held virtually via Zoom. This year’s theme is “Stories of Our Becoming: the Shoulders on Which We Stand,” and the event will feature two keynote speeches. The opening keynote address, “Freefalling and Finding Self: Meditations on Blackness and Rasanblaj,” will be given by Gina Athena Ulysse, a Haitian-American feminist and artist-anthropologist. The closing keynote address, “Witness and Withnessing: the Archive of Black Freedom Struggles,” will be given by Treva Lindsey, a black feminist historian and co-founder of the Black Feminist Night School at Zora’s House in Columbus, Ohio. Two interactive panels are also part of this year’s summit. “The Art of Storytelling” will examine why the stories about black history are so central to black experiences. The second panel, “Lifting as We Climb,” involves a discussion on the career paths of three presidents from colleges and universities in New England. The free event is open to the public. For a full schedule, information about the speakers and panelists, and to register, visit A Zoom link will be sent to all attendees prior to the summit.


YPS Third Thursday

Feb. 17: The Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) will host its signature Third Thursday event series at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Springfield from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Presented by event sponsor Canna Provisions, the networking event will support and encourage young professionals to become more involved and invested in their local communities. February’s Third Thursday event will include a 30-minute ballroom-dance lesson, networking with fellow young professionals, complimentary snacks, samples from Hardwick Vineyard & Winery, and more. Guests do not need a partner or take a lesson to attend. Fred Astaire Dance Studio is located at 54 Wayside Ave. in West Springfield. Pre-registration is not required, but highly recommended. Registration is free for members and $10 for non-members. Visit to register.


Healing Racism Institute Sessions

Feb. 23-24: The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV) has slots open for its February two-day in-person session. To register, visit The two-day seminar is held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at STCC Technology Park in the Corridan Center Conference Room, 1 Federal St. in Springfield. HRIPV also has openings for its five-part virtual series. For more information and to register, visit Scholarships are available to those with financial need. E-mail Vanessa Otero at [email protected] for more information. The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley was formed in 2012; since then, more than 1,000 people from Western Mass. and throughout the Commonwealth have participated in its signature two-day Healing Racism program.


Game Month and Hunter’s Dinners

Feb. 24: Wild-game dinners started decades ago at the Student Prince and the Fort as a treat for the regulars. Former owner Rupprecht Scherff heard the call of the wild from his customers and started game-night dinners to please local hunters and anyone with a curious palate. The tradition continues in 2022 as the Student Prince and the Fort present Game Month throughout February. The second of two Hunter’s Dinner Nights will take place on Thursday, Feb. 24. A special Game Month menu (in addition to the house menu) will be available all month and feature appetizers such as deep-fried frog legs. Entrées include a game wurst trio with pheasant, rabbit, and venison; bison; buffalo ribeye; and the locally famous student Prince veal shank. Hunter’s Dinner menus include an assortment of table appetizers and a six-course dinner. Courses include deep-fried frogs legs, pheasant and venison sausage, duck legs, poussin, and buffalo ribeye, followed by a flaming dessert. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at or by calling (413) 734-7475.


MOSSO Chamber Music Series

March 10, April 14, May 12: The Westfield Athenaeum will present a three-concert chamber music series beginning Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m., with Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) providing the music. MOSSO violinist Beth Welty is bringing her ensemble, the Aryaloka Quartet, to the Athenaeum to kick off the series. Guy McLain, executive director of the Westfield Athenaeum, will offer a pre-performance talk at 6 p.m., which is free to ticket holders. Violinists Mark Latham and Beth Welty, violist Noralee Walker, and cellist Sandi-Jo Malmon will perform William Grant Still’s Lyric String Quartet, Charles Ives’ String Quartet #1 Op. 57 “From the Salvation Army: A Revival Service,” Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 #3; and an additional piece to be announced at the performance. Tickets for the concert cost $20 and must be purchased in advance at the Westfield Athenaeum during business hours, or online at Audience members will be required to wear masks. Two additional concerts are planned for Thursday, April 14 and Thursday, May 12.


Difference Makers

March 24: Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through a program called Difference Makers. The 2022 Difference Makers include Tara Brewster, vice president of Business Development at Greenfield Savings Bank; the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Heriberto Flores, president of the New England Farm Workers’ Council; John Greaney, retired State Supreme Court justice and senior counsel at Bulkley Richardson; Ruth Griggs, president of the Northampton Jazz Festival and principal at RC Communications; Ted Hebert, owner of Teddy Bear Pools and Spas; I Found Light Against All Odds and Its Founder and CEO, Stefan Davis; and Roca Holyoke and Springfield. Their stories are told in this issue of BusinessWest. The 14th annual Difference Makers celebration will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $75 and can be ordered at The sponsors for this year’s program are Burkhart Pizzanelli, the New England Farm Workers’ Council, the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and Westfield Bank.


Springfield Symphony Orchestra Spring Concerts

April 22, May 13: The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) Board announced two spring concerts will be hosted at Springfield Symphony Hall with former SSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith serving as guest conductor. Smith is music director and conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. He previously served as music director for the SSO from 1995 through 2000. He has worked as director of New Music Projects for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and artistic director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has also served as music director for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Details about the concerts, program, and availability of tickets will be forthcoming and available at


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