Columbus Carriage Classic, Wisconsin

There are plenty of reasons to visit historic Columbus, Wisconsin anytime of year. But early June brings an added incentive--the annual Columbus Carriage Classic.

That's when nearly 100 horse-and-buggy hobbyists from all over the Midwest converge on this charming town with beautifully restored antique carriages, buggies and wagons for a weekend of friendly competition and demonstrations.

Dressed in authentic turn-of-the-century costumes, these folks relive the days when horsepower had four legs and families showed off their finest horses, fanciest harnesses and most-comfortable carriages on Sunday drives.

The center of activity is Fireman's Park, where participants (at top) compete for trophies in a number of categories, including driving skills and authenticity of costumes and carriages. At last year's event, my husband and I watched the action from shaded bleachers, and later took a closer look at the vintage rigs. We had a good time chatting with their owners.

The highlight of the weekend is Sunday's Dickason Pleasure Drive, a horse-drawn parade through the historic residential and business districts of Columbus. It's easy to transport yourself back in time as the clip-clop of hooves and the clatter of wooden wheels echo from lovely Victorian homes and vintage business buildings.

The entire downtown commercial district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. So between events, you'll want to explore the town. We really enjoyed walking shady streets and admiring wonderful old homes in a variety of styles, including Queen Anne, Italianate, Craftsman, Romanesque Revival and Prairie.

And if you enjoy antique hunting as much as Holly and I do, there are several shops in town, plus a huge antique mall billed as the largest in Wisconsin.

The Carriage Classic is a wonderful way to discover Columbus. After you do, you'll want to visit this friendly town again and again!

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