Over 20 horse-drawn sleighs and a record number of participants from throughout New England and New York will be featured at Old Sturbridge Village's annual Antique Sleigh Rally on Saturday, February 1. The vintage sleighs will be pulled by a variety of horses and compete in a dozen different classes, including the popular "Sleigh Dog" and "Currier & Ives" divisions. The Antique Sleigh Rally is open to the public and free with museum admission. As part of its Kids Free on Winter Weekends promotion, the Village will be offering free admission to all children 17 and under who are accompanied by an adult paying full-priced admission.
Vintage sleighs, such as Portland cutters, Albany swell bodies, utility sleighs, and bob sleighs, will be pulled by different horse breeds, including Haflinger, Standard Bred, Gypsy, Morgan, Clydesdale, Suffolk Punch, Kaldblodstraver, and Spotted Draft Saddlebred. The competition includes divisions for adults and juniors. In the "Currier & Ives" class, drivers and passengers wear vintage costumes, and in the "Sleigh Dog" class, drivers' dogs get to come along for the ride.
Sleighs were a part of the social scene in early New England, but also provided a more comfortable way to travel as compared to carriages. Old Sturbridge Village Curator Tom Kelleher notes that snow in early New England was actually welcomed by travelers, saying, "Instead of plowing roads clear after a storm as we do today, in the 1800s teams of horses and oxen were driven out to trample the snow down, leaving a hard packed surface for sleighs. Horse drawn sleighs dashed along over this slippery surface much more quickly and comfortably than was possible over rutted or muddy dirt roads the rest of the year. Winter was the best season for travelling."
Additional winter activities at Old Sturbridge Village include sleigh rides on the Village Common, old-fashioned sledding, exploring historic buildings, engaging with Old Sturbridge Village interpreters, and making hands-on crafts. Children will also enjoy "KidStory" where they can pretend to be rural New England villagers from the early 19th century.
Old Sturbridge Village is one of the largest living history museums in the nation, celebrating life in early New England from 1790 - 1840. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., OSV is open year-round, but days and hours vary seasonally. The Village offers visitors lodging at the Old Sturbridge Inn and Reeder Family Lodges and several dining options on-site. During the winter, the Village is open Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., and on all Monday holidays. It is also open daily for School Vacation Week from February 15-23. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 3-17: $8 for admission, but free with one full-priced adult admission on weekends through March 30 (no other discounts or coupons apply); children 2 and under: free. Admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. OSV members receive free daytime admission all year long. For more details, visit www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.