Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Envelope, Please...

The poll results are in for the question:

"Besides OSV, what thing(s) would you want to promote here in town to attract more tourists? You can choose more than one."

The towns history and character: 50%
Eco-tourism, Hiking, boating, fishing biking...: 75%
The Arts: 32%
The scenery: 18%
Festivals: 37%
Country Fair like Spencer or Woodstock: 18%
My idea is not here: 6%

There was a great response to the poll, and it was a solid majority of those that participated that voted for eco-tourism. The towns history came in second. So, my question to you now is, how do we go about promoting these ideas? Do we present them to the Board of Selectmen? Remember, if you present anything, you must always be ready to serve in some capacity if asked.

What specific eco-tourist kind of ideas would you like to see. Send your ideas to, and after a bit I'll post them here.

Promoting the towns history came in second. What ways would be the best to promote this? Would specific events that occurred in town be promoted? Specific landmarks? A children's book? Again, send your ideas to

Let's brainstorm a bit, and see what we come up with. Who knows, with the proper vision, presentation, and work, we could see something in the works by spring.

In the meantime, don't be shy, write to the Town Manager, and the Board of Selectmen, and tell them of your ideas.


  1. Good morning Thinking: I want to let you know that your blog is serving as such a great asset to this town. It has such a positive energy to it, and your "catalyst" position is refreshing. Thank you.

    It's wonderful that you invite participation in rallying around the town to bring about change.

    I would be willing to serve in some capacity to work toward making some of this happen. I have a business lunch with the CEO of OSV in late January, and I'd be happy to bring these ideas to him, plus provide them to the Chamber of Commerce, and newspapers.

    Yes, my time is limited, but I'll commit to helping where I can. How can I help?

  2. Carol,
    This is one of the reasons I write, to receive comments such as yours this morning. It means what I have written has struck a nerve in some, and more importantly, it has inspired an offer to help.

    Thank you.

    I realize your time is limited, so I will take what you can offer. Please feel free to bring any ideas to the CEO of OSV. Their remarkable comeback can only be enhanced. What we need is someone with experience, knowledge, and connections to spread the word of what goes on here. Writing is fine, but unless it is read by those that can invoke change, then it is like writing to the wind.

    By forwarding the blog to the Chamber, and others, or talking to newspapers it will widen our scope, and get our voices out there to those that are empowered to help make some positive changes.

    Thank you, Carol. You input is very much appreciated.

  3. Since adopting the Community Preservation Act in 2001, our Town has had the unique opportunity to purchase some of the nicest parcels of land which exist in our little piece of paradise. With this opportunity comes potential for the economic development of our tourist town. The miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, walking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing give us one more tool, in our box, which can be used to attract tourists into our special town. With ponds on these parcels and the Quinebaug River flowing through the center of our town we can add fishing, swimming, kayaking and canoeing into our repertoire. In order to flourish as a tourist town, we need to work together to create and market these extraordinary conditions. OSV is a gem. While gems can be stored in any old box, a gem always looks better and shines brighter when it is displayed in an attractive setting. We need to enhance on our setting, as we can always improve. By marketing the historic and natural surroundings which Sturbridge offers, we can attract visitors who are looking for a special place to visit, different from other towns. Along with enjoying fresh air and majestic views, these visitors can take pleasure in our unique shops and award winning restaurants. A day at OSV will round out a visitor’s weekend. We should strive for write ups in Yankee Magazine, and a full blitz on Chronicle. The word will be strong on what a wonderful place Sturbridge is to visit and residents will continue to feel proud and lucky to call it home.

    In addition to marketing our history, forests, trails, river and fields we could work on holiday/seasonal festivals (in addition to our successful Harvest Festival). These festivals are entertaining for residents, beneficial for shopkeepers, and attract tourists who boost our economics. The December holiday season is one in which people are looking to spend money on gifts, we could capitalize on this by taking a page out Ogunquit’s or Wickford’s book. Both of these festivals are treasures which could be easily matched here in Sturbridge.

    I have included these links for those who may have interest in these ideas:

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Penny,

    I read your comments this morning and then sat back, and smiled. It is nice to know that others are on the same page as I am (or is it I am on the same page with others for once).

    Marketing is essential. An article for Yankee Magazine, and a episode of Chronicle would be ideal. A strong marketing plan aimed at print media, and TV spots would be valuable as well.

    I also like the idea of a Festival here in town, either around the Holidays in December, or at some other time during the year to coincide with other events already in place such as the canoe race.

    Thank you for taking the time to write, and to include the links. Right after I clean off the driveway, I will check them out.

  6. Yes I think you have struck a nerve as I think its interesting how things sometimes come back around, and just MAYBE you have started something back around. In the past before the word "eco tourism" was coined OSV partnered with the Host (was it the Sheraton back then?) for cross country ski trails on what is now the Town’s OSV property. Then we had the Heritage Festival that lasted for 10 years, following a very successful 250th anniversary celebration,(history) and more recently the short lived First Night (special event). All have come and gone for two simple reasons: Lack of volunteers’ time, and financial support challenges (time and $).
    I know that running a successful program over the long haul is difficult and challenging. People loose interest, financial interests move on, and without a broad based community support (and that must include several commercial sponsors) any activity no matter how well intentioned, will eventually fail.
    Unfortunately for Sturbridge, I believe the majority of residents could care less about promoting the town in the ways you have suggested. Maybe I can be proven wrong, but from what I've seen happen in Sturbridge over the years, and even happening today, like the Firefighters no longer sponsoring Ham and Bean Dinners, or the Sturbridge Democratic party no longer hosting a family style roast beef dinner (its now wine and cheese, I believe?) to even just 10 residents showing up for two different volunteer days to work on trails. Just maybe this forum will bring some new involvement in current initiatives, like our volunteer trail days, or new members and support for Opacum, and even I might find some time to help....

  7. Tom,

    Thanks for writing, it's good to hear from you. I was writing a response to your great comments, and found myself going on, and on. So I am going to post my response to you on a Blog posting later today.


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