They are over 100 years old and symbols of a by-gone era — but the covered bridges in Madison County are still stars. Thousands are expected to visit Winterset and the surrounding area to see the famed bridges during this weekend’s 35th annual bridge festival.
Connie Kinder of the Winterset Chamber of Commerce says final preparations for the festival are going on today. She says vendors will start movie in late this afternoon and tonight and the gates will open at eight A.M. Saturday and be open until five p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Kinder says they’ve tried to plan activities for everyone. She says they have a quilt show, and antique show, a car show, a parade, vendors and food around the square, bridge tours, helicopter rides and a kids zone.
The bridge tours are the focus of the event. She says the tours leave every 15 minutes and last about two hours. The bridges gained nationwide attention in Robert Waller’s book “The Bridges of Madison County” and the subsequent movie in 2002 starring Clint Eastwood. Kinder says if you take your time and look closely, you’ll understand the appeal of the bridges. She says, “Look for their personality. They’re there. Each one, they might look alike, but they are different, and they have a different feel to them. And of course long before the movie, why Roseman Bridge was known to as the ‘haunted bridge’ to the locals. And Holliwell Bridge was know as the ‘floating bridge,’ because no matter how high the water got, the bridge was never covered.”
Kinder moved to the area in 1988, and she says that’s given her a different perspective on the bridges and the area. She says coming into the community rather than being raised there, “has given me a deep respect for their heritage, which I now claim also. And the way they have maintained it and kept it.” Kinder says they expect anywhere from 25 to 35-thousand people to visit during the festival. Winterset is also the home of movie legend John Wayne.