ROCKVILLE — Friday Oct. 14, one of Indiana’s largest festivals begins in Parke County – the 65th annual Covered Bridge Festival!

What began in 1956 was only halted once, in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, marking this year’s rendition of the event, the festivals 65th running. 

While the ten-day event has close to a dozen activations throughout Parke County, the center of the festival is centered around the courthouse square in Rockville.

“We have about 50 vendors underneath the big tent in Rockville on the courthouse lawn. We also have vendors that surround the courthouse on the streets, and they also line the highway up and down,” Parke County Inc. Executive Director Neysa Jones said. “Come to Park County. Experience what we have to offer during these ten days. Come to Rockville and see our handmade, hand-crafted vendors. We really take pride in that!”

Traditional food offerings prepared by local nonprofits running “food shacks” throughout the area will be in full force along with the vendor booths. 

Jones says while the tastes and smells of the festival are wonderful, the sight of the bridges is what really brings the crowd. 

“There are 31 covered bridges in Parke County. We are the covered bridge capital of the world,” Jones exclaimed. “That’s what people like, is when they come here – if they’re not familiar with covered bridges and they don’t have them in their area, they can see so many at one time! They are all are very similar, but they are all very different and the history behind them is interesting too.”

Many of the bridges themselves were constructed in the mid to late 1800’s, as you can imagine, keeping them in good condition is a year-round task, and a costly one at that. Interested generated from the festival, donations, along with dedicated funding from the Parke County Commissioners help keep the bridges alive for the next generation. Other local organizations have stepped up to help keep the bridges looking nice when acts of vandalism occur.

“These bridges are our treasure, we have to take care of them,” Jones said. “Each year we highlight one of the different bridges, it’s a great way to show them off. This year it is the Catlin Bridge, and that closes a 31-year series on the collection of pins, magnets, and ornaments that they’ve had going on these for bridges.”

Daily guided bus tours are available for purchase through the website, with a north & south route offered at $35 a piece.

“We’re excited. We look forward to these ten days every year,” Jones said. “Come explore the county and have a great time!”