"We're looking for organizations or anyone that has western-themed activities or items of interest to the public and would like to participate in the event," Bridgeton Grist Mill owner Mike Roe said of the event he's helping Brett Erwood create. "The buildings and setting here in Bridgeton are perfect for a re-enactment of the old west and other similar types of events."
Counting on the public's fascination and love of the old west myth to generate interest, the two men hope enough people find the idea interesting enough to particpate and seal their hopes for the new festival becoming a yearly event in the future.
"People love the lure of the west, how it was a simpler time," said Erwood, who is a member of the Indiana Mustang and Burrow Club (IMBC) and the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) where he is known as and dresses as an old west figure named "Horace Hockey."
"I wanted to do something to help in the reconstruction effort for the bridge and was driving down the road one day coming home from work thinking how I could help. Then it hit me, I'm involved with the IMBC and the SASS. Both organizations have events that people enjoy going to, so it was an easy idea."
Now comes the hard part: the organization of a two-day event.
After discussion, the two men decided that planning the new festival during a previously scheduled and well attended event was the best route to take.
"The Milling Days here at the mill is scheduled the same weekend," Roe said. "Both events are similar time periods and will compliment each other nicely I think. People will be able to enjoy a wider array of activities and help support both the mill preservation and the reconstruction effort for the bridge."
The grass roots movement by the small community to build a replica of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge has so far collected close to $80,000 in donations and countless promises of contruction materials for the project planned for the 2006 summer.
The bridge project estimate has climbed to $2 million, but the actual cost will be unknown until the blueprints are provided by architect Steve Arnold and structural engineer Chuck Ennis of the engineering firm of MS-A/E Inc. These plans will help the Parke Co. Commissioners and the Bridgeton Covered Bridge Association determine the final estimate of the project, which is hoped to be completed before the 50th anniversary of the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival in 2006.