|By ANN ALLEN
ROCKVILLE, Ind. — In Parke County, where there is a festival for nearly every season - maple syrup, mushrooms, bluegrass, woodworkers and whittlers, watermelon, corn bread and Christmas - the population is gearing up for the biggest one of all - the annual Covered Bridge Festival.
This year’s event, the county’s 50th, will be Oct. 13-22. Thousands of visitors, drawn to the area by its 30 rustic covered bridges - so many the county is known as the covered bridge capital of the world, will bring in even more tourist dollars.
Relics of the 19th century, covered bridges spanned rivers and streams to forge a link between distant farms and semi-urban areas. Most of the bridges are no longer in use, save for foot traffic, but they provide a glimpse at the past few tourists can resist.
Although activities center on Rockville, they are not limited to the county seat. Nearly every town and village offers something - tours, flea markets, hog roasts, boat rides, antique tractor displays, winery tours, camping, art shows and nature trails.
Of special interest this year is the Bridgeton bridge, destroyed by fire on April 28, 2005, and currently being rebuilt by residents outraged that an arsonist would commit such an contemptible act.
Considered by many to be Indiana’s most famous covered bridge because it crosses a waterfall, the bridge is 267 feet long. At the end of the dam is the historic Bridgeton Mill.
Family owned and operated for over 180 years, though not with the same family, it produces stone ground cornmeal - red, white, blue and yellow - plus five kinds of flour and prepared mixes by using 200-year-old French buhr stones.
Bus tours with area residents serving as guides are available. The information center, an 1883 railroad depot located at 127 S. Jefferson St., Rockville, has brochures, maps and suggested itineraries.
This farm news was published in the Oct. 11, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.