Now that gardening season is pretty much over, there is more time to enjoy other weekend activities. This time of year there are many fall festivals to check out. One I have not missed for many years is the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. Although the covered bridges are a draw, the festival is mostly about shopping. The festival originated as a way to showcase local crafts and handmade goods but has gone on to include flea market type booths as well. I always start my CBF day in Rockville which is the hub of the festival. I love circling the old courthouse, checking out the new and returning vendors. This year I finally purchased some handmade wooden jar lids I have looked at many times over the years. The ones I chose are made of a beautiful Burr Oak. They encase a standard canning jar lid and ring so that you can store pasta, beans, rice, or what have you in a canning jar that becomes a work of art with the addition of the elegant lid. Another stop in Rockville is always the Senior Citizen's Center. A lot of people bypass the Center, which is about a block away from most of the other vendors. The people at the Center really appreciate their visitors and are eager to help. I usually buy a tea towel that has had a top sewn on to it so that you can hang it from your oven door. This year I purchased one from a lady who was only days away from her 95th birthday! I also found pair of earrings I had to have that were handcrafted from a lady that I wasn't quite sure really belonged at a Senior Citizen's Center. However, I think that this is a case of "seniors" looking younger to me every year! My daughter has made a tradition of picking up a jar of pickled okra here as well, and I stocked up on persimmon pulp. There are not many places around where you can pick up all of these items in one stop.
After Rockville, we take a short, scenic drive to Bridgeton. Bridgeton is the home of my favorite covered bridge. Actually, the original bridge was tragically destroyed by an arsonist a few short years ago. However, the bridge was rebuilt using the original plans and is just as lovely as the original, minus the feel of history that you just can't replace. The bridge sits near a stately grist mill which has been continually operating longer than any other mill east of the Mississippi River. In Bridgeton there are miles and miles of booths that are so much fun to explore. There are tents of antiques, yard art, jewelry, purses, artwork, fragrances, kitchen gadgets, and food galore. This year, we discovered another feature of the festival we hadn't really noticed before. Dogs! We saw dogs on leashes, dogs in strollers, dogs in front packs, dogs in specially made backpacks, and dogs with backpacks. We saw dogs of every size, shape, and color. Not only were people out enjoying the beautiful fall weather, hundreds of their best friends were along for the ride. I don't know if my dog Toby would enjoy the crowds and the noise, but the dogs we saw this day seemed to be having a doggone good time, so who knows?
It is nice to have a bit less work to do in the yard and more time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful fall foliage. I hope we will be able to take in a few more festivals before it is too cold and all thoughts turn to Christmas shopping. If you would like to know more about the Covered Bridge Festival and the area's many covered bridges, here is a good website with a lot of pictures you will want to visit: http://www.parkecounty.com/gallery/