The Bridgeton Covered Bridge was a favorite stop for tourists at the 50th annual Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.
By DIANE DIERKS
"Weather was not in our favor this year. It was chilly and we had only two warm and sunny days on Wednesday and the last Saturday of the festival," said Cathy Harkrider, office manager of Parke County Incorporated. "Hot food items were definitely more popular than cold foods like ice cream," she said.
The less than favorable weather might have affected attendance at the 2006 Parke County Covered Bridge Festival - but still over 1 million tourists made their way through the county during the 10 day festival that ran Oct. 13 - Oct. 22. Harkrider said attendance was average when compared to past festivals.
According to the Parke County Auditor's office, over 1,800 vendors sold merchandise throughout the communities of Rockville, Billie Creek Village, Bloomingdale, Bridgeton, Mansfield, Mecca, Montezeuma, Rosedale and Tangier.
The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival is one of the largest festival attractions in the nation. You can purchase just about anything you can imagine, from handcrafted furniture to athletic clothing, and the festival continues to expand into neighboring counties.
There are still many local traditions, like the ham and beans on the Rockville town square and buried beef at Tangier. Buses continue to travel the covered bridge routes and Billie Creek Village stands as a historical reminder to the past.
Harkrider said, "My hope is everyone keeps in mind the originality of the festival and we all realize that with the change in times, some commercialization has become part of the festival. I hope that people involved with the festival will work to keep commercialization to a minimum, so the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival continues to be a one of a kind festival in the Midwest."
To learn more about the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, visit www.coveredbridges.com.