DONEGAL – Shirley Bedillion and her husband, Lee, have brought their percheron draft horses to several other Covered Bridge Festivals, and though they’ve never seen sleet or snow, they have seen rain and experienced bitter, end-of-summer chill.
Saturday afternoon was different, though. With just a smattering of clouds and a pleasant breeze, the weather could hardly have been much more perfect.
“It’s never been like this,” Bedillion enthused.
The Bedillons were at the Brownlee Bridge outside Claysville, one of 10 bridges in Washington and Greene counties included in the Covered Bridge Festival, an annual mid-September rite in the two counties that celebrates the area’s history through its covered spans.
The 45th festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Brownlee Bridge and also at the Hughes Bridge in Amwell Township; the Ebenezer and Henry bridges, both in Mingo Creek County Park; the Krepps Bridge in Mt. Pleasant Township; the McClurg Bridge in Hanover Township; the Wyit Sprowls Bridge in East Finley Township Park; the White Bridge at Garards Fort, Greene County; and the Carmichaels Bridge, also in Greene. The Pine Bank Bridge at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village is also participating, but is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The bridges had a host of activities around them Saturday, and that will continue Sunday. At the Brownlee Bridge, for instance, Howard Ashbrook of the Whiskey Jug Rangers was there with friends for re-enactments of Revolutionary War skirmishes and demonstrations of cannons.
Pointing out that Southwestern Pennsylvania was once “the Wild West,” Ashbrook explained “obviously it’s important to convey local history to people who might not be familiar with it.”
Civil War and American Indian re-enactors were at other locations in the Covered Bridge Festival Saturday, and most of the other bridges had food and craft vendors, activities for children and music.
The Covered Bridge Festival drew at least one first-time visitor in the form of Dameon Holmes. A Michigan native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he and friends were in McGuffey Community Park checking out Brownlee Bridge and trying to map out their journey to other bridges.
“I’ve always been meaning to check it out,” he said. “I like the re-enactments, and we were trying to figure out the practicality of building that bridge.”