For the past decade, North Lewisburg in Union County has celebrated music, Americana and family fun with its annual Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival.
In previous years, festivalgoers have described the event as wholesome and nostalgic, said Tina Knotts, tourism and marketing director at the Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
But, above all, the festival is a place for families. Knotts said it is not uncommon to see multiple generations enjoying the weekend together.
The bridge dinner is Friday, Sept. 22. The rest of the festival is set for Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24.
The Pottersburg Bridge is located at 17141 Inskeep-Cratty Road, North Lewisburg.
Since the festival first began, Knotts said, it has grown immensely.
It all started with the area being a part of the Big Darby Plains Scenic Byway. The plan was to have different cultural events connected with the byway, and from there, the festival “spun out of that.”
Five years ago, the event was moved to the Pottersburg Bridge and became the three-day festival that it is today.
The event kicks off with a dinner on the bridge Friday.
“It’s very quiet and serene,” Knotts said of the dinner. “It just has a really neat feel.”
The bridge, originally designed and built in 1868, will serve as:
• The concert venue for several of the 11 bluegrass bands and musicians scheduled to perform at the festival, such as progressive bluegrass group Mad River Railroad and the Sugar Creek Band, a group of brothers and sisters who bring youthful energy to traditional bluegrass. The complete schedule of bands and other festival events is available at coveredbridgefestival.com.
• The setting for a breakfast is from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, and a picnic dinner from 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 23.
• The centerpiece of an array of other activities for the whole family are kids’ games, horse-drawn wagon rides, farm animals, a 5K run and 2-mile walk, food trucks, art classes, an antique and vintage market, bus tours of the county’s historic bridges and specialty farms, a community church service, and an 1860s-style baseball game featuring the Ohio Village Muffins of Ohio History Connection, 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24.
Offered by the Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the festival is supported in part by the Ohio Arts Council.
“The Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival showcases our historical covered bridges, designed and built in the 1860s and 1870s by Reuben L. Partridge,” says Mardy Hanlon-Stolte, chairperson of the festival. “The Pottersburg Bridge offers a one-of-a-kind setting for a special weekend of wholesome activities for the entire family, from delicious comfort food and foot-tapping music, to charming arts and crafts, and fun kids’ activities.”
Festival admission is $5, and free for children 12 and under. Festival hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 23 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.
Reservations are recommended for the Picnic on the Bridge, from 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, which will feature a performance by the Sugar Creek Band. Tickets for the dinner may be purchased for $25 on the festival website, coveredbridgefestival.com, by calling 937-642-6279 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The dinner includes broasted chicken, two sides, rolls, lemonade/iced tea and pie. Each dinner ticket includes a chance to win a signed 12-by-16-inch print of a watercolor painting of the Pottersburg Bridge by Ohio folk artist Billy Jacobs.
Tickets for the concert alone, without dinner, will be available for $15.
There are several tours throughout the day, Knotts said, all of which are given by a guide in an air conditioned bus. The area has a total of eight bridges, seven covered and one steel truss.
The festival will also include marketplace vendors, featuring artisans, as well as antique and vintage dealers. A kid zone will have activities such as face painting and pumpkin crafts.
Special festival guest folk artist Billy Jacobs will sign his books and prints at 2 p.m. Sept. 23 and will perform bluegrass music in the festival pavilion from 3-4 p.m. Sept. 24. Jacobs, of Navarre, began his career as a woodcrafter and designer and now focuses on watercolor painting.
The Union County Farm Bureau is sponsoring the run and walk to support the Ohio 4-H program. The $30 registration fee includes admission to the festival and a hot post-race breakfast. Register at runsignup.com/Race/OH/NorthLewisburg/FarmFit5k. Start time is 8 a.m. at the Pottersburg Bridge.
Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival sponsors include Bluebird Retirement Community, presenting sponsor; Bob Chapman Ford, Dinner on the Bridge sponsor; Primrose Schools, Picnic on the Bridge, bluegrass music and Kids Zone sponsor; Union Rural Electric, bus tour sponsor; and partner sponsors, North Central Ohio Solid Waste District, Honda Marysville, Honda Marysville Motorsports and Union County Foundation.
Knotts added that there will also be a performer on stilts who entertains the kids.
She summarized the numerous ongoing activities, saying, “It’s a lot of old-fashioned fun.”
Knotts said while there is admission for some of the events, many of the ongoing activities are free of charge.
“It’s pretty inexpensive entertainment for the family,” she said.