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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Old-Fashioned Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rally at Old Sturbridge Village Feb. 4, 2012

STURBRIDGE, Mass. (Jan. 16, 2012) – Old Sturbridge Village celebrates the history and the joys of horse-drawn sleigh driving with an old-fashioned sleigh rally on Sat. February 4. Antique horse-drawn sleighs – many of them 80-120 years old – will converge on the Village for the sleigh rally, which will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will feature dozens of drivers competing in a variety of categories, including the popular “Sleigh Dog” and “Currier & Ives” divisions. The event is open to the public and free with museum admission. Watch the OSV Sleigh Rally video; for all details call 800-SEE-1830, or visit

A variety of horses and drivers will be represented at the Old Sturbridge Village Sleigh Rally. At last year’s event, breeds included Haflinger, Standard Bred, English Shire, Gypsy, Clydesdale, Icelandic, Regular Mini, Morgan, Iberian Warm Blood, Pinto, Welsh, Arabian, and Friesian. Competition classes will include Pleasure Draft – Single Hitch; Pleasure Mini – Single Hitch; Pleasure Pony – Single Hitch; Pleasure Horse – Single Hitch; Sleigh Dog – All Hitches; Multi Hitch (Mini and Pony); Multi Hitch (Horse); Currier & Ives (Mini, Pony, Horse, and Draft Horse); Junior to Drive; Ladies to Drive; and Gentlemen to Drive.

Sleighs participating will most likely include bob sleighs, Portland and Albany cutters, racing sleighs, freight sleighs, and more. Bob sleighs have “bobs,” which are double runners that make them more maneuverable and easy to turn sharply.  Single runner sleighs can tip over if turned too sharply.

Other winter activities at Old Sturbridge Village include ice skating (bring your own skates), horse-drawn sleigh rides around the Common, and sledding on 1830s-style sleds (weather permitting). After enjoying the museum’s outdoor winter activities, visitors can warm up indoors beside one of the Village’s many cozy fireplaces and take part in hands-on crafts and activities. Children can also spend time “pretending” in Old Sturbridge Village’s popular “KidStory” indoor play area.

The real purpose of sleigh bells

According to Old Sturbridge Village historians, getting about in winter via sleigh over snow-packed roads was easier and smoother than navigating bumpy roads at other times of the year. Also, sleigh bells were for safety, not just for decoration.  The jingling sound prevented collisions since sleighs slid so silently over the snow.  As writer Samuel G. Goodrich observed in 1840: “…a sleigh and horse go so quietly and noiselessly on the snow that some warning to the ear is necessary, especially at night…”
After the first snow of the season, early New England families usually switched from wheels to runners, from carriage to cutter, and brought out the sleigh bells, foot warmers and fur robes. Moonlit sleigh rides were enormously popular, especially among the young and single. Goodrich wrote, “Parties of both sexes sit in sleighs as closely as they can be packed, and sometimes in each other’s laps.”

For Sleigh Rally enthusiast Anne Geyer, of Sturbridge, it is a thrill to drive in a sleigh at a forward trot when conditions are “just right” on a packed, swift snow surface.  “Imagine having the perfect horse and sleigh with a warm sleigh robe and foot warmers by your feet. The sleigh bells and saddle chimes sound terrific.  The driving horses love the sound of the bells and show off by carrying themselves proudly. The whole experience of driving a sleigh can be romantic and peaceful, especially at the end of a storm when no one else is out.”

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in the 1830s, and is one of the country’s largest living history museums. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., the Village is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. Winter hours are Wed. - Sun. 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (the Village is open on all Monday holidays); Beginning March 31, 2012, the Village will be open seven days a week. Admission is: $24 for adults; $22 for seniors; $8 for children ages 3-17; children under 3 are admitted free. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get 25% of adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive 50% off adult daytime admission. For event details, visit or call 800-SEE-1830.

Contact:  Contact:
Old Sturbridge Village
Ann Lindblad 508-347-0323508-886-2689 cell

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