I‘m of the mindset that life is about collecting a variety of experiences, so when I learned that the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival kicked off last weekend, I decided to check it out!
Parke County, located just 60 miles west of Indianapolis, Indiana, is known as the covered bridge capital of the world. Its annual festival, which celebrates these architectural treasures, has been attracting thousands of visitors since 1957. Think State Fair meets antiques road show plus 31 covered bridges!
Whether you’re a city dweller or from the country, this is a fun filled event that all will enjoy. Below is your guide to the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.
A 10 day festival featuring local vendors, crafts, antiques, food and music celebrating Parke County’s 31 covered bridges, the most in the world!
The main event takes place on the courthouse square in downtown Rockville, Indiana.
The festival begins the 2nd Friday in October and runs for 10 days. Vendors are open each day (rain or shine!) from 9am-6pm throughout the festival.
There are several lots that offer paid parking for $3-$5, but you can easily find free street parking one to two blocks away from the square.
WHAT TO DO
The epicenter of the festival takes place on the courthouse lawn in downtown Rockville. Here, you’ll find several tents featuring a variety of vendors selling everything from jewelry and Christmas décor to leather goods, furs, jams, fudge, and more! Outside, there is plenty of festival fare from racks of ribs to slow churned ice cream.
If you tire of the festivities, you can even take a ride in a horse drawn carriage! You’ll also be treated to live entertainment each day. Due to the rain, the music was postponed when I was there, but on a sunny day it’s not uncommon to see dancing in the streets!
The local shops, galleries and restaurants located throughout Rockville also welcome festival goers and offer sales and specials throughout the event. You’ll also notice several pop-up yard sales throughout Rockville. With so much to choose from, it’s unlikely you’ll leave empty handed!
With all the eating, shopping and entertainment to enjoy, you may forget what the festival is all about- the covered bridges! You’ll have to leave the main site to see any, but the organizers provide a detailed map which highlights several designated routes so you can tour Parke County’s numerous bridges. Most are within 30 minutes of downtown. On a sunny October day, it makes for a beautiful drive! (Here’s a free customizable, interactive Parke County map to help plan your covered bridge tour!)
WHAT TO BRING
Weather appropriate clothing:
Although most vendors are housed under tents, this is an outdoor event, so be sure to dress for the weather.
The festival takes place on the courthouse lawn, so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. If you venture out to see the covered bridges, which you should, you’ll be walking on dirt roads and wooded trails.
The event is free to attend, but if you plan on purchasing food or treasures, you’ll need to have some cash on hand. While some vendors accept credit cards, it’s a good idea to have cash especially for buying food. Most items cost between $5-$7 and the proceeds go to support local sports teams and organizations.
This is a unique event and with so much to see and do you’ll want to have your camera to capture all the fun!
The festival takes place rain or shine, so it’s a good idea to keep an umbrella handy just in case you get caught in a shower.
Since the event takes place outdoors, pups are welcome!
An empty stomach:
One of the highlights at the festival is of course, the food! There is a wide variety of goodies to try, and with many vendors offering free samples, you’ll want to arrive with an empty stomach to taste a little bit of everything. You’ll find homemade jams, kettle corn, loaded baked potatoes, homemade soups, ribs, BBQ, peach & pumpkin butter, cobbler, and so much more!
If you’ve never attended the Covered Bridge Festival, you’re in luck- there are still 5 more days to get out and enjoy the festivities! If you’re in the Indianapolis area, you should definitely consider checking it out. It’s a great way to spend the weekend and is guaranteed fun for the entire family!
The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival 2017 takes place daily from Thursday, October 12th through Sunday, October 22nd. Head down to the Parke County Courthouse and enjoy an afternoon of antiquing, great food and historic covered bridges (map it)!
Have you ever attended the Covered Bridge Festival? What are some of the unique local events in your area?! Share your comments below!