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Covered Bridge Festival Craftsman

The 57th Annual Covered Bridge Festival began Friday and runs through Oct. 20. Thousands descend on Parke County each fall to enjoy the homemade crafts and food. John Bennett is one craftsman working to revive the lost art of blacksmithing.
"Do I look like I'm not havin' fun."

John Bennett has been working with metal since he was a teenager. Once only a passion, it's also now his job, creating masterpieces that being as just straight metal.

"I hope to leave a legacy," said Bennett. "My grandkids enjoy doing the work and I hope someday they take pride in the fact that their grandfather was a blacksmith and an artist."

Since the Industrial Revolution the need for blacksmiths has drastically declined. But like any industry, it is evolving.

"So today's blacksmiths are different in the fact that I've not met a blacksmith yet that didn't want to share his knowledge, didn't want to share his craft. And that's why it's not a dying art anymore," Bennett said.

He crafts masterpieces every year at the Covered Bridge Festival, the only festival he attends. Being just minutes from his hometown of Fountenet gives him a chance to admire those that admire him.

"My head gets so big you can't get it in this tent," he said. "For people to admire my work, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something."

He comes back each fall to celebrate originality and craftsmanship that he says will keep a hometown festival alive.

"If you look in the right places there's still people that take pride in their work. That's one of the reasons I do it," he said. "As long as I can physically do it, I will keep doing it."

The Covered Bridge Festival runs until Oct. 20 in different cities across Parke County. Visit www.coveredbridges.com for more details.
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