|Wicket Grounds Croquet Club, Tolland, MA|
A distinct rarity in such celebrations, croquet continues to be found and enjoyed on most New England farm and rural homes, including those of Clark's family, whose ancestors helped found the town in 1810 and have populated it for most of the time since.
In 1989, Clark rebuilt and "rewicketed" the dedicated lawns and produced and managed more than 100 such matches throughout New England and New York when few people ventured into the Berkshire foothills to play at his own lawns. But, since 9-11, enthusiasm for the sport as a public event also has suffered. So now, free matches and social croquet by invitation has been the main entertainment for Clark, who lives with his wife in a rather reclusive existence much of the time, rattling around the dusty hallways of their rambling farmhouse.
Tolland, Massachusetts, (now mentioned always with the actual state attached) is among the ten smallest towns in the Commonwealth, but steadily growing as the seekers of quiet and smallness eventually are finding the high country roads and grow accustomed to the "16 miles to anything" lifestyle. When July came to Tolland, the long-planned 200th anniversary festivities occupied the town's thoughts. It had rained on the parade, but sun shown on the fishing derby and softball game. Clark's family trust produced the Art Show at the newly repainted church on the green while thunder rumbled in the Catskills, seen by the trained eye far to the west. The Sunday croquet matches follows the ubiquitous fire department steak roast to be held the day before, July 31, on the green, but not many townspeople play croquet.
The event is free to all players and spectators. Players must have experience in any type of croquet, as many rules are in common. The minimum age is 13 and the traditional whites are optional but the shoes are not. No sandals on the lawns, please.
Perfect for both backyard and advanced players alike, the easy play six wicket format is set in a series of half hour games of group play, each man and woman playing one ball as individuals. The players are awarded points in each game and are promoted to more difficult lawns hoping to find themselves on "Center Court" for the grand finale. Cups are awarded to the three top points scorers.
Described as a meld of the "game" and the "sport" of croquet, "individual one ball" is a divination of Clark's writer's mind, imagining a fun day where five hours could be spent on croquet, (normally the "sport" is a two day affair or more) and "still have time to find their way out of town, before it gets dark."
The Wicket Grounds are located off route 57 at 1043 Burt Hill Road, four miles east of New Boston, Massachusetts, and 30 miles west of Springfield. Tolland, Massachusetts is a town of 445, whose telephone is in Sandisfield, its mail from Granville, its schools in Southwick and its identity in ...Connecticut, where the city of Tolland is often confused with...guess who...?
Being 16 miles from Southwick, it is a pleasant and almost hidden trip along "The Toto Trail", the name of Clark's history of Tolland, Massachusetts, through the blueberry lanes of Granville up into the high country just north of the Connecticut line. At night the lights of Winsted, Connecticut, blink toward The Wicket Grounds on Burt Hill...from 16 miles away, of course.
For more information on the Bicentennial Cup Croquet Tournament, visit www.macroquet.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The Wicket Grounds, 1043 Burt Hill Road, Tolland, Ma 01034.
For the details on the Tolland Volunteer Fire Department’s July 31st Steak Roast and Dance celebrating Tolland’s 200th birthday, check out: http://www.tolland-ma.gov/public_documents/TollandMA_News/02B5590E-000F8513
And here's a link to the official Town of Tolland, Mass. website: http://www.tolland-ma.gov/public_documents/index
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