After the in-person festival was suspended last year due to COVID-19, the EQT Washington & Greene Counties’ Covered Bridge Festival is ready to run again in 2021. As always, the festival is scheduled for the third weekend of September, and this year, that weekend falls Sept. 18-19.
The last festival took place Sept. 21-22, 2019, in pre-COVID society, and, as this year’s will, featured 10 bridges on display, with free admission.
In total, 30 covered bridges remain in the two counties, and 197 in Pennsylvania as a whole, according to pacoveredbridges.com.
The Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency founded the Covered Bridge Festival in the early 1970s to celebrate the historical importance of local bridges. The tourism promotion agency is the primary operation in the event’s promotion. It also is responsible for all activities at the Ebenezer Bridge site in Mingo Creek County Park. This site is the festival’s most extensive, usually bringing in more than 20,000 guests over the weekend, according to Jeff Kotula, President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Promotion Agency.
The bridges on display include:
• Brownlee Covered Bridge in McGuffey Community Park.
• Carmichaels Bridge, located in Carmichaels.
• Ebenezer Covered Bridge in Mingo Creek County Park.
• Henry Covered Bridge, also in Mingo Creek County Park.
• Hughes Covered Bridge in Amwell Township.
• Krepps Covered Bridge in Mt. Pleasant Township.
• McClurg Covered Bridge in Hanover Township Park.
• Pine Bank Covered Bridge in Meadowcroft Rockshelter & Historic Village.
• White Covered Bridge, located in Garards Fort, Greene County’s other bridge location.
• Wyit Sprowls Covered Bridge in East Finley Township Park.
The Covered Bridge Festival is seen unofficially as a kickoff to the fall season as the climate cools off and the leaves begin to brown. The official start of fall is Wednesday, Sept. 22, three days after the festival concludes. In addition to the 10 bridges, the weekend will also feature activities such as arts and crafts, homestyle food, historical exhibits and reenactments.
Over the years, the festival has evolved from a handful of sites to its current 10. The event is acclaimed, having been nominated as one of the Observer-Reporter’s Best of the Best in the Fair/Festival and Seasonal Attraction Category.
Last year was supposed to mark the 50th anniversary of the festival. For months after COVID-19 took over the world, the organizers held out hope that the Covered Bridge Festival — scheduled for Sept. 19-20, 2020 — would be able to proceed. As the virus continued to linger, however, that hope was put to rest in early July. Kotula is glad it’s back.
“We are excited to be able to host the event this year,” Kotula said, “knowing how much our visitors are looking forward to it as well as the ability to promote Washington and Greene counties.”
The festival has evolved over the years and now features 10 locations; eight in Washington County and two more in Greene.
“It has become a very distinguished, extremely popular, and highly regarded event by both patrons and participants alike,” Kotula said.
Now in its fifth decade, Kotula feels the festival, like the bridges themselves, have “stood the test of time.”
“While each site serves to commemorate the historical significance of the bridges, they also showcase a broad variety of activities that keep drawing visitors to return year after year,” he said.
Overall, Kotula looks forward to the event, putting some of the best features of both counties on display, an opportunity missed last September.
“Showcasing Washington and Greene Counties as great places to live, work and raise a family with a wonderfully unique event for visitors to enjoy,” Kotula said.
Sponsored content brought to you by Visit Washington County Pennsylvania.