Successful Covered Bridge Festival keeps growing
Union County's annual Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival is growing every year and Chamber & Tourism Director Tina Knotts couldn't be more pleased.
"We've had great feedback," she said.
This year's event, set Sept. 20-22, marks the sixth year for the festival, which celebrates Union County's history and heritage.
The Pottersburg Bridge, built in 1868 at 17141 Inskeep-Cratty Road, North Lewisburg, will serve as the centerpiece of the festival this year. Several special events will take place on the bridge, including a four-course sunset dinner Friday evening, Sept. 20, (reservations required) and breakfast the following morning, along with live music throughout the weekend.
Knotts said at one time, there were more than 100 covered bridges in the county. Today there are seven, plus one steel truss bridge.
Mardy Hanlon-Stolte, chairwoman of the festival's planning committee, said the event was recommended in the 2006 Darby Plains Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan.
"At that time, Christy Clark, Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau director, and Sue Irwin, business manager for then-County Engineer Steve Stolte, developed the plan based on input from the public," she said. "With help from the county visitors bureau and the county engineer employees, the festival concept was launched in 2007 and a committee was formed."
Several committee members have served for all six years of the festival's existence. The first festival was held in 2008.
"The festival is all-American, not commercialized, good old-fashioned fun," Knotts said. "Last year, we added bluegrass and folk music. It was a huge hit."
Knotts said the crowds were up significantly in 2012 and organizers hope to double last year's attendance.
"We have taken calls from folks coming in for the festival from as far away as Missouri and Louisiana," she said.
The Covered Bridge and Bluegrass Festival is an economic plus for the area, Knotts said.
"Folks traveling generally stay over at a local hotel, dine, purchase fuel and buy incidentals," she said. "Local business will see an influx. Most of our vendors (craft, antique, art or food) are local vendors so the money is staying here.
"Proceeds from the pie auction last year went to the (Union County) Historical Society. We raised $500."
New activities have been added this year, thanks to the chamber's partners: Marysville Art League, the Partridge Co-Op, Friends of the Library, the historical society and the Rotary Club.
"There will be art classes on the bridge for adults and kids, storytelling, pioneer demonstrations and a pancake breakfast on the bridge Saturday morning, all thanks to our partners this year," said Knotts.
Activities will include bluegrass and folk performers, children's games, horse-drawn wagon rides, a pie-baking contest, pumpkin carving and a local-foods culinary experience. Also new is a bluegrass concert Saturday night, featuring the Nashville-based Banjocats performing at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, with regional bluegrass favorite Black Diamond opening the concert.
A full lineup of musicians will perform about 17 hours of live music during the weekend at Pottersburg Bridge.
The festival includes guided bridge tours, a community church service and a marketplace for antiques and art.
Admission to the festival grounds at Pottersburg Bridge is $5 per vehicle; ticket prices for the Banjocats concert are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children ages 12 and younger. For more festival information visit Covered BridgeFestival.com or call 937-642-6279.