The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

October 12, 2008

Celebrating the 17 Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County

Two-day festival celebrates its 25th year

JEFFERSON — The 70-degree temperatures along with the colorful fall foliage provided a beautiful backdrop as the county’s festival season draws to a close.

Hundreds of people ventured outdoors Saturday to take advantage of the warm October weather, and what better place to do so than at the 25th annual Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival. The festival is being held at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds as well as many of the county’s covered bridges.

“There’s people everywhere,” said Betty Morrison, director. “There’s sunshine everywhere.”

Morrison said this year’s festival is running smoothly aside from one minor mishap. The van tours scheduled to shuttle folks to four of the county’s bridges were canceled because of medical issues with the person running the shuttle, she said.

The shuttle to the new bridge is still running. Folks can catch a ride from the fairgrounds to check out the county’s newest bridge for $3. The Smolen-Gulf Bridge is the focal point of this year’s festival.

It is the county’s 17th covered bridge and the longest in the country, spanning 613-feet over the Ashtabula River. The bridge stands 93 feet above the river. The Smolen-Gulf Bridge officially opened for traffic earlier this week with the barricades being removed Tuesday night, Morrison said.

“I’m dying to know what’s going on there,” said Morrison, who was handling the festival at the fairgrounds all day.

With the recent decrease in gas prices, Morrison said she thinks people are taking advantage of possibly the last good weekend.

“The leaves are just gorgeous,” she said. “The kids are having a ball ringing the (Bicentennial) bell.”

The Covered Bridge Festival has basically become the “keeper of the bell” as Morrison put it. The bell was cast at the 2002 Covered Bridge Festival and the committee had a trailer built for it, she said.

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