The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, a Hoosier tradition since 1957, and one of the Midwest's biggest festivals, will celebrate its 50th anniversary Oct. 13-22.
Special celebratory events include a dedication ceremony on the courthouse square Oct.14 at 11 a.m. Invited dignitaries include Gov. Mitch Daniels, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, State Rep. Dale Grubb, and family members of the original builders of famed covered bridges of Parke County, J.J. Daniels and J.A. Britton. Family members of William Hargrave and Juliet and Jack Snowden, county civic leaders during the beginning days of the Covered Bridge Festival are also expected.
The Covered Bridge Festival celebrates Parke County historic covered bridges and nine county villages filled with arts, handcrafts, antiques and flea markets, including plenty of great food located amid the natural beauty of covered bridge country in fabulous fall foliage.
Parke County's landmark thirty-one covered bridges are the headliners for this fall festival. Bus tours of all the bridges leave from Covered Bridge Festival headquarters at the Rockville Square. Local guides ride along with visitors retelling the history of the covered bridge county and local folklore. Bus tours of the county festival villages which dot the beautiful Midwestern countryside are also conveniently available for the visitor and resident alike who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of traffic.
Festival activities will interest all members of the family, church groups, or community organizations. You may also reserve your spot on a covered bridge tour by calling 765-569-5226.
If you choose to drive the bus routes once you arrive in Parke County, handy color-coded maps of covered bridge routes are available. Festival locator maps and brochures for the communities which share in the Covered Bridge Festival fun are also available. All maps and brochures are available at different locations including the Tour Booth, Information Booth, Tourist Center and other locations throughout the county.
Located in the heart of Parke County is the town square of Rockville where the big tent surrounds the graceful Parke County Courthouse. Within the Big Tent are countless artisans, crafts, and homemade delicacies. Some of the vendors have been with the festival since its infancy.
Booths and shops line the picturesque 1870s town square. The square is filled with great food, "Wash-day" ham and beans with fresh baked cornbread, chicken roasted over open grills, or huge bright yellow corn on the cob with sweet butter. Brick-lined streets house a variety of shops, antique malls, and a genuine 5 and 10 store.
The Covered Bridge Art Gallery located on the north side of the square is studio and display hall to resident artists and is open and free to the public. Many fine local art pieces are displayed and original artwork may also be purchased.
Parke County is more than 400 square miles of rolling hills full of native hardwood and softwood timber in all its fall glory during the festival. Bittersweet with its bright orange berries can be found growing throughout the countryside and just as you cross the hill or turn a corner a covered bridge awaits the traveler just as it has for many years.
Come to the country. Step back to a gentler time of apple cider, crisp fall air and friendly faces. You will find it all at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.