Joe Kroger and his percheron Midnight getting ready to make someone ’ s birthday extra special .
Words and photography by | Destinee Ott
Jingle Bells is a song which has become a holiday staple . Young children and adults alike have been known to sing , or hum , along in the spirit of the season .
The image of a snowy evening spent wrapped in warm blankets in the seat of a carriage being driven by a fine horse is one which lives in the hearts of many who have heard this song .
Kroger Stables and Family Farm gives those of Madison County , and other surrounding counties , the chance to live out this holiday moment . They offfer carriage rides for parties , weddings , and more . And the fun doesn ’ t stop when the winter snow melts . Kroger Stables and their carriage works year-round to bring the fun of carriage rides to the community .
It all began in 1964 when Joe Kroger , owner and operator of Kroger Stables , bought his first buggy . His wife , Helen Kroger , explained they were juniors in high school at the time . Joe had bought the carriage for the pleasure of himself and his family at first ; never thinking it might grow to become a business . He explained he had frowned upon working mules .
Joe ’ s father was born in the 1900s and never owned a tractor , claiming they compacted the soil too much . So his father , and later Joe , worked the soil with mules . Joe said he grew up wanting something fancier than mules with fancier harnesses .
“ I had that goal early in life . We finally got there after many years ,” Joe said . The business of giving out carriage rides to others rather than family came about when the Kroger ’ s church would come out to their farm for hay rides and bonfires , which they have been doing for over 40 years . Joe and Helen agreed it had been such a long time ago , they couldn ’ t quite remember , but they believe someone had brought up the idea of giving them a carriage ride for their wedding . And thus their business was born . The Krogers now give out carriage rides for birthday parties , anniversaries , Christmas parties , weddings and more . “ We grew from little to being really busy ,” Joe said . Joe said no day is a normal day for their business . Every venue is different . He explained sometimes they just have parties to go to . These are mostly just one hour or two hour events , Joe said . Then in December , they work in places such as Hamburg , giving carriage rides during the holiday season . These are normally longer days for the carriage horses and driver . Joe said the horses never work no more than four hours .
“ They ’ re like family , so we wouldn ’ t do anything to over work
June- July 2020 Madison Magazine 7