JEFFERSON — Roads were busy Saturday afternoon as covered bridge fans toured the area seeking to view the unique structures that draw people from near and far.

The Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival is back after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors canvassed the area to view the 19 covered bridges that are spread throughout the entire county.

"Everyone was so anxious to get back out, so I have a lot of vendors," said ACCBF Executive Director Ginger Whitehead. She said there were about 70 vendors in Giddings Park, where the festival is centered.

Whitehead said the festival had a lower budget than normal because of the missing year, but the event was off to a good start.

"We know they are coming from all over the country and all over the state," Whitehead said.

She said volunteers handing out literature heard about all the places the visitors came from to attend the festival.

A variety of offerings occurred at each of the county's covered bridges.

Things got off to a bit of a slow start at some of the sites because of heavy rains on Saturday morning.

"It is a great weekend and tomorrow [Sunday] it is going to get even better," Whitehead said.

At the Harpersfield Covered Bridge, a line of motorcycles waited for the next portion of their trip while waiting for a fellow rider to return from taking a selfie at the bridge.

Skip Craine has been doing a demonstration of pioneer life for more than 30 years at the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. He said a tour bus came through the park on Friday.

Craine said there were fewer side vendors at the bridge this year. He said the cost of vendor permits at the facility have increased.

People lined the streets in Jefferson to see the festival parade that arrived at Giddings Park just before 2 p.m. A variety of floats, politicians and social organizations provided visitors with a special experience.

The 37th edition of the festival coincidentally occurred on the same weekend that Elisha Gozzard made a trip home from Hodgenville, Ky.

"We are visiting family and we just decided to see the parade," she said.

Gozzard said she grew up in the area and has fond memories of the event.

"I used to twirl and march in the band. I never missed it," she said.

Giddings Park held dozens of vendors selling crafts and merchandise and food trucks provided visitors with a variety of culinary delights. A car show and music groups also kept people entertained at the village's "covered bridge pavilion".

The festival continues today in Jefferson and throughout the county. Whitehead said the action starts at 10 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at 5 p.m. 

"We have a church service at 10 (a.m.) and a couple more music groups," she said.

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