Annual Covered Bridge Festival starts today

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today is the first day of the Covered Bridge Festival and it continues for the next 10 days.

As always, the festival offers activities and events countywide and the shining stars are Parke County's 31 historic covered bridges.

Headquartered on the courthouse lawn in Rockville since 1957, visitors will find food served by many of the not for profit organizations of the county that use funds from the Festival to promote their organizations throughout the year. A large tent and streets around the courthouse filled with crafters and vendors for shopping are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some have been here since the festival began. Free entertainment will be scheduled on the south side of the courthouse throughout each day.

Bus tours leave the square daily from the tour booth located on the northwest corner of the square. Guided tours take you through the county to make stops at communities in the county and of course to see covered bridges along the way.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults, under 12 is $5 and lap sitters are free. For reserved tickets, call (765) 569-5226 or email

Choose from one of three routes, Red, Yellow or Brown. Each is unique and different. The Red tours the southern part of the county with stops in Bridgeton and Rosedale.

Yellow travels north through Country Farm Communities, Turkey Run State Park with a stop at Tangier where they serve the famous "Buried Beef" and a stop at Bloomingdale, a Quaker Community.

The Brown Route travels west with the history of the Wabash and Erie Canal, a stop in Montezuma and historic Mecca with a one-room schoolhouse and a tent filled with all handmade products.

Antique stores and shops line the streets of Rockville. The Covered Bridge Art Gallery on the north side of the square is open daily for viewing of local artist's works on display.

The Historic Ritz Theater is home to the Parke Players. Located one-half block west of the square, they provide entertainment or the traditional melodrama for the entire family during the festival.

Tickets are $6 for all seats and the doors open one hour prior to curtain time. The presentation this year is "Love Rides the Rails" and will be presented each evening of the festival except Tuesday when the Jackson Township Community Band will perform.

Billie Creek Village is a turn of the century village located 2 miles east of Rockville on U.S. 36. Thirty historical buildings and home of three covered bridges is open daily with attractions and special events.

Admission is $5, seniors $4.50, 3-12 years old $3 and under 3 is free. Visitors can take the tractor shuttle from the Old Jail (tourist information center at 127 S Jefferson) to Billie Creek and leave a car parked. Tractor Shuttle runs continuously through the day and is included in admission to Billie Creek Village.

Bridgeton offers a wide array of crafters and vendors, a gristmill, 1878 House and Case Log Cabin, and of course the Bridgeton Bridge rebuilt in 2006.

The Historic Mansfield Roller Mill, Mansfield Bridge and hundreds of vendors and crafters are open daily in Mansfield.

The Old Jail at 127 S. Jefferson is Parke County's Tourist Information Center or the Old Railroad Depot at 401 E. Ohio (ample bus parking and restroom facilities) for all of Parke County information.

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