The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival is a much loved traditional event that has been celebrated every October since 1957. The event starts at the county seat, Rockville, with booths of crafts and food and spreads out across the county and takes place the first two weeks of October. At one time there were at least 53 covered bridges in Parke County, but now there are 31 in existence and 10 of those are not open to vehicle traffic.
Folks come from miles around to see the many historical covered bridges in the county, visit the center of Rockville, Indiana, shop at the many roadside stands and booths, and taste delicious Autumn inspired foods. Also, area families set up yard sales and craft bazaars along the streets and roads. This is a hugely popular festival and claims to be the largest of its kind in the nation and this was it’s 57th year. It makes a great drive through the Indiana countryside while the fields are being harvested and the tree leaves are turning beautiful colors.
I decided to drive to Mansfield, Indiana where one of the old covered bridges is located and is the site of a huge set up of booths, tents and food venues. Huge doesn’t quite describe it, maybe massive is a better word. The booths went on for what seemed forever and there were hundreds of people everywhere. My photos don’t quite express how many people there were. But despite the number, the crowds flowed along and I never really felt bogged down in my progress through the festival.
Years ago, as a young newlywed, I came to this festival when it was a new novelty and it was much smaller. The items for sale were all hand made by Indiana artisans and the bridge was easy to view and walk through. There was an old general store here too, with wooden floors and old fashioned grocery items for sale.
This trip, though, I found there were many kinds of merchandise, very little of it made by local artisans. There were handmade crafts, yes, but the kind you would find in bulk at Hobby Lobby or other big outlets, and tents of clothing, sweatshirts, socks, perfumes, gardening objects, wooden plaques, scarves, purses, bags, farm tools, almost anything and everything – items that I could find at the local Walmart. If you’re looking for a bargain, you can probably find it here. People bring their own handcarts to fill up with purchases.
Food venues were pretty much ‘fair’ food – elephant ears, steak sandwiches, popcorn, corndogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, fudge, cookies, and the list and tents went on and on – most to be eaten on the move, with few places to sit.
Below are photos of the Mansfield Roller Mill, inside and out:
I was able to take some photos of the bridge and the turbine grain mill museum, which was very well preserved, as well as the waterfall and wheel trace behind it.
I love the history of the great mid-west!
Many don’t know of it – it is fun to teach about it and learn from it.
Thanks, I really enjoyed this 🙂
You’re welcome! 🙂
What a wonderful way to spend an autumn day. I would LOVE to see the covered bridges and all the festivities surrounding their celebration. Great review of the workings of the mill too!! Of course, glorious photographs throughout!
Thanks Jeff! It is a wonderful way to spend an Autumn day!
Aside from enjoying this post (I lived in Anderson, Indiana for a year when I was in my 20’s), you just solved a great mystery for me! We have several Kaki trees here on our property in Italy and I never knew what they were called until reading your blog…Persimmons! I have never seen one in Canada so when people asked me what they were I just shrugged and said Kaki, which is what they are called here in Italy. I don’t really like them much but perhaps you have a great pie recipe to share??? hint hint 🙂
Well, I’m the worst person to ask, as I don’t like persimmons either, lol. I remember as a kid being subjected to really bad recipes that made one pucker so, so I avoid them. I hear though, that a good recipe is quite tasty. I’ll search around and see if I can find a good recipe! 🙂
Thanks. My husband eats them with maraschino liquor but he is not a bit fan either as they make a mess on the walkway and attract the calabrone and wasps 😦
My brother in law however is crazy for them and protests every time we threaten to cut the trees down, haha.
Lol, just the thought of them makes one pucker their lips 🙂
Oh, are they sour in Indiana? They are mushy and sweet here but more mushy and tasteless if you ask me.
Yes, they tend to be sourish here, from what I remember.