BY DENNIS BARTLOW
ROCKVILLE, Ind. —
It is a busy time at Parke County Inc. this time of the year as employees field questions about the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.
“The phone is ringing all the time,” said Jane Kelp, who was taking calls recently at the PCI office. “We are expecting 1.5 million people during this year’s festival.”
Not bad for a county where Rockville, the county seat, has fewer than 3,000 residents.
The attraction is the 56th annual Covered Bridge Festival that opens Friday and runs for 10 days. The headquarters for the festival is the courthouse lawn in Rockville, but the festival spreads out to many of the smaller communities.
The courthouse square will have more than 150 vendors underneath tents on three sides of the courthouse lawn and various food booths on the rest of the lawn featuring everything from beans and cornbread and sausage and ribeye sandwiches to homemade ice cream and cobblers.
Free entertainment will be on the south side of the square.
PCI officials suggest visitors start in Rockville, where they can help plan the day depending on what they want to see.
The main attractions are the 31 covered bridges. Five routes fan out from the courthouse square and take motorists through the bridges and into many of the smaller towns in the county, most with festival activities.
Montezuma has its pig roast and tours of the Wabash and Erie Canal. Tangier is famous for its buried beef and homemade pies, and Bloomingdale has apple butter making. Mecca offers a one-room schoolhouse, and Bridgeton and Mansfield feature mills, crafts and flea markets.
While many people enjoy traveling the routes in their own cars, mini-coaches will take them on two trips for $12. The northwest tour goes to Tangier and Bloomingdale, while the southwest route goes to Montezuma, Mecca and Rosedale. Bus tours will leave the courthouse square at 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. EDT. The cost is $15.
The Parke Players will present the melodrama “Dirty Work at the Crossroads” most nights at the Ritz Theater. Tickets are $7.
PCI will present singer/songwriter Jill Calucci and songwriters Pam Rose and Chuck Jones on Oct. 16 at the Ritz Theater. Tickets are $10.
“They wrote many songs the stars sing,” Kelp said. “They will sing them during this concert.”
Their songs were recorded by Travis Tritt, Martina McBride, Diamond Rio and others.
Billie Creek Village, Parke County’s recreated turn-of-the-century village, has closed and its buildings and items will be sold during the festival.
IF YOU GO
The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival begins Friday and runs through Oct. 21. To reach Parke County, go south on Indiana Route 63 from Interstate 74 to U.S. Route 36 and then go west or take U.S. Route 41 south from I-74 to Parke County. For information, call (765) 569-5226 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Most festival booths are open from 9 am. to 6 p.m. EDT daily.