STURBRIDGE – Thousands of visitors converge on Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) each Labor Day weekend to enjoy one last summer outing and the Village’s annual old-fashioned “Family Fun Days” celebration. And this year all children up to age 17 get free admission when accompanied by an adult paying regular price.
Guests can ride in the stagecoach, take a boat ride on the Quinebaug River, and enjoy classic early 19th century games like tug-of-war (called French and English in the early 1800s).
Families can play “base ball” using an ax handle for a bat, roll hoops, shoot marbles, fish in the Village millpond and enjoy a variety of “make-and-take” crafts. Other highlights each day include musket firing demonstrations and the launch of a “toy fire balloon.” Visitors can meet the heritage breed oxen, cows, pigs and chickens and the OSV historians will demonstrate hearth cooking, pottery, blacksmithing and more.
Historical magic and puppet shows will be offered throughout the weekend; the Old Sturbridge Village singers will perform on Saturday and the Village dancers will teach 19th century dances to visitors on Sunday. Event sponsor is Country Bank.
Tried-and-true games of the past still captivate children today, according to Old Sturbridge Village historians, and among the most popular are giant games of tug-of-war held daily on the Village Common.
“We often have children visiting OSV who have never played hopscotch, marbles, jump rope, and who have never tried to walk on a pair of stilts,” Jack Mullin, Old Sturbridge Village coordinator of education, noted. “It’s gratifying to see how much fun they have with these old fashioned childhood favorites.”
The daily launch of a “toy fire balloon” on the Common is a summertime tradition at Old Sturbridge Village. The world’s first hot air balloon launch was in 1783, so the fascination with balloons was in full swing during the time period portrayed at the Village. The balloon is constructed with tissue paper as it would have been in the early 1830s. In fact, directions for making and launching toy fire balloons were listed in books of the day, including The Boy’s Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations and The American Boys Handy Book: What to do and how to do it.
Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is one of the largest living history museums in the country. The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
OSV offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 17 and younger, free through Sept. 1. For information, visit www.osv.org
or call 800-733-1830.