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

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Dreamin', I'm Always Dreamin'..."

I have epiphanies a lot. I'm not sure if this a good thing, a spiritual thing, or its just hearing voices and I am just flat out nuts, but, I have them, thus this Blog.

The other day I was thinking about a way to get the word out about all the new land we have here in town, and the outdoor recreational activities here in town.

We need a booklet. Not a pamphlet mimeographed in the church basement, but a real, color booklet about the properties we have here in town. A catalog of sorts. Every two pages , the left and right page, will be dedicated to a parcel of land. Color photos, some interesting text, maybe a bit of history of the land. On the lower half of the right page there should be a pocket for a map. The map should be a simple one showing the trail heads, and the trails within the parcel. Distances of the trails should be marked as well as interesting things along the way, such as an ancient tree, a stone bridge, streams and brooks, old roads, and various plant life all corresponding with numbered plaques along the trails.

The photos should be of the land, and actual people, and families enjoying the land. Fishing, cross country skiing, skating, hiking, canoeing, and picnicking.

Each parcel of land should have a separate section with a map. There should also be included a section for local merchants to advertise directly to those that come to use the land. A deli can offer box lunches for the casual hiker, an ad from Staples focusing on GPS, or Wal*Mart for their outdoor section. The bait store is a natural, and the drug store for insect repellents, and first aid items. All the ads will be focused on the particular type of folk wanting the booklet. And, of course we charge for the ads to defray the cost of the booklet. The booklet can be offered at the information center, or the front desk of the hotels and motels in the area. Of course, those hotels and motels will want to advertise as well, as will restaurants, stores, and shops.

We also need to put together a "Tourist Package". A booklet, such as above, a DVD featuring video of the area, maybe a "Welcome" by a local celebrity, or politician. Throw in some "freebies" as well. A cup of coffee, a soda when you buy a sandwich, maybe a discounted "Outdoor Package" at a local hotel. Send off information to the tour bus companies, advertise the town on radio, maybe a short TV commercial.

Another "magic moment" I had recently involved the Heins Parcel of land up off Leadmine Road. First, check out the photos of the land in the slide show at the bottom of the page. It is a wonderful piece of land with wide open meadows, and woods. 83 acres with lots of room for parking. Now, besides the obvious like hiking trails, nature trails, and other passive activities, how about using this land for something memorable? An annual event? Something that will draw people in to our town.

I had mentioned before about this being a great location for hot air balloons to take off from. Maybe a race, or a show. I still think that is a great idea. I know nothing about balloons, except that it takes 87 of them with an aluminum lawn chair to get me just over the tree tops.

Don't ask.

How about a music festival? An outdoor, weekend long music festival. Bluegrass music? Country? Folk? Classical music? Sort of a "Hayden on the Hill" type of event. Local restaurants could have booths. Picnic tables set up in a grove. Local radio stations could broadcast live from the event.

This land is unlike the other parcels. It is open, 83 acres, and perfect for even a kite festival, or a civil war reenactment.

This one parcel of land alone could do so much to resurrect tourism to our area, and of course, that resurrection will have a domino effect for everything else in town.

Think about what I've written. Let those ideas generate some of your own, don't let thoughts like,"That'll never get approved", get in the way. Let you head roam free. OK, a scuba diving convention in the meadow would not be the best idea, but anything else would be great. Once you have some ideas, submit them here in the comments section, and then pass on the posting to others in town so that can add to it. Eventually, it will come to rest in the hands of the folks in power, and they'll see a couple of things: 1) there's people in town interested in helping out (something they already know), and 2) there are things that have never been thought of before. Those "things", the ones never even considered before, usually ignite the most interest.

So be brave, think outside the crate, and go for it.

Here's a few more to get you rolling:
  • A dog show.
  • an antique car show
  • a Donny Osmond concert
  • outdoor theater
  • model airplane competitions (remote control)
  • a horse show
  • a pavilion for performances
Don't just be satisfied with little numbered markers along a path telling you about the butterfly life cycles, those are great, and needed, but this place is meant for more.

Hmm. How about a rodeo? Pig races? A Druid festival...

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