Old Sturbridge uses authentic 1800s buildings, many of them moved here from other communities, to re-create a rural settlement of the 1830s. On the large property are a meetinghouse, sawmill, bank, country store, blacksmith shop, school, cooperage, printing office, and parson's home. At the edges of the village are a working farm and herb garden. Lazy boat rides on the adjacent Quinebaug River are popular, as is a hands-on craft center that opened in 2007. Rides on a newly commissioned horse-drawn stagecoach are planned for 2008; the village already features horse-drawn sleigh rides when there's snow.
Costumed docents demonstrate sheep shearing, heirloom gardening, clothes dying, musketry, barrel-making, and more, generally using language true to the period. Special events take place on the Fourth of July and in the Christmas season, and on winter weekends the participatory Dinner in a Country Village is great fun: Guests get to stay after-hours to pitch in and make a typical meal on a massive hearth by candlelight, and then gather around a single table to enjoy the fruits of their labor -- roast chicken, "beef olives," gourd soup, trifle, fresh-roasted coffee.
After a few dire years financially, the village appears to be on more solid ground. The Oliver Wright Tavern, closed for a few years, reopened in 2007, and an aggressive 2006-07 fundraising campaign raised $1.83 million.