Fire & Ice Day at Old Sturbridge Village July 19

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Free admission for kids; firefighters get 50% off

Antique fire engine parade, fireman’s muster, chili contest, vintage ice cream making

(STURBRIDGE, MA) – July 10, 2014: To celebrate its July 19 “Fire & Ice” old-fashioned fireman’s muster, Old Sturbridge Village is offering half-price admission for all firefighters, and free admission to children age 17 and under when accompanied by an adult paying full price. The free youth admission offer is limited to five children per one adult, no further discounts apply. Antique fire engines, including a variety of early hand-pumpers and a rare 1925 Stutz fire truck will be on display and will take part in grand parade around the OSV Common. Visitors can join in bucket brigades and pumping contests, watch vintage ice cream making, and help judge the Best Chili in History Contest, with entries from noted area restaurants.  Junior Firefighters and Fire Explorer Scouts will compete in the only sanctioned fire muster for them in the northeast. Details: 800-SEE-1830;

The earliest of fire engines are called “hand tubs” and were pulled by the firefighters themselves, who then pumped the long handles on each side, called “brakes,” drawing water from the engine’s “tub” to spray on the fire.  Hand pumping was exhausting work and required many volunteers to work the pump.  But without fire hydrants in early America, lines of citizens called a ‘bucket brigade’ passed water buckets hand to hand to keep the hand tubs filled. Visitors of all ages can take part in bucket brigade competitions at OSV, which are especially popular with children.

For the “ice” part of “Fire & Ice Day,” Old Sturbridge Village food historians will demonstrate 18th- and 19th-century ice cream making techniques using early “receipts” or recipes. These recipes from early America sometimes include flavors that might seem unusual to us, including ginger, gooseberry, and Parmesan, which tastes a bit like cheesecake. Ice cream in the early 1800s was sometimes colored red or pink with cochineal dye, made from dried insects imported from Mexico. Visitors can watch demonstrations of the sorbetiere and hand-cranked ice cream machine. Copies of the “receipts” for the ice cream will be available.

Before the early 1800s, ice cream was a rare treat, and usually reserved for the rich and royal. The ancient Romans made “sweet snow,” desserts combining juice or wine and mountain snow and ice.  By the 1660s, Europeans added cream to the recipe and used ice and salt to super-cool the dairy dishes or frozen ices.  Before refrigeration became widely available in the 20th century, frozen products like ice cream were very expensive. The earliest known description of ice cream in America was at a lavish dinner given by the Governor of Maryland in 1744.   Ice cream became more popular with the masses after the hand-crank ice cream machine was patented by Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia in 1843.

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. – 5:00 p.m. seven days a week.  OSV offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 17 under, free through September 1, 2014 when accompanied by an adult paying full price admission (offer limited to five children per one adult, no further discounts apply). For information: or call 800-733-1830.

Laura Chilson; 508-347-0294
Ann Lindblad; 508-886-2689

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