2020 Covered Bridge Cancellation impacts local businesses

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ROCKVILLE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Thousands of people from across the country travel to the Parke County covered bridge festival every year.

But with the cancelation of this year’s event local businesses and restaurants like Aaron’s on the Square expect to take a hit.

“The money that we make at covered bridge, it helps us get through the winter because winter around here is quite a bit slower than spring summer and fall. So a lot of our businesses they save that money from covered bridge and it helps get them through. That’s the biggest loss people will see. It’ll be hard getting throughout the winter without having that,” said Lisa Hommey, owner of Aaron’s on the Square.  

The festival was scheduled to begin on October 9th. 

Hommey and her husband Aaron are disappointed about the cancellation, but not surprised. She said there’s something more important at stake.

“The amount of lives that would be lost, outweighs the economic cost. I don’t think it’s worth having the covered bridge at the expense of people’s lives,” she noted.

The festival has been around for more than half a century.

Debra Olson, owner of the Old Jail Inn and Drunk Tank Winery, has participated in the festival for more than 10 years.

Olson said she’s already looking ahead to next year’s festival.

“The economic part of it is a little scary because there’s a lot of cancellations and a lot of refunds to be made. It kind of goes with it. You just have to breath deep,” Olson noted.  

She said she’s hoping for another opportunity to bring in money this fall.

“Our bridges don’t have coronavirus. Our parks don’t have it. We still are blessed to have a lot to offer. And as for myself, I’ve changed gears. I have 9 cells that I rent out 2 and 3 years in advance. It didn’t work out that way this year and people are cancelling and that’s going to happen, but there’s going to be another opportunity,” she said.

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