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Here's What You Need to Know About the Madison County Bridge Festival

Madison County Covered Bridge Festival

If you’ve ever visited the covered bridges of Madison County, you’ll understand just how easy it is to fall in love with the beauty of the region. Spoiler alert: Even Clint Eastwood found romance under a Madison County bridge once upon a time. But if you have never visited or heard about the covered bridges, you’re in for a treat. The Annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival is just around the corner and promises to be a celebration you won’t want to miss.

Madison County Merriment

This year’s Madison County Bridge Festival on Oct. 13 – 14 marks the event’s 49th anniversary. Founded in 1970 as a way to share the stories, lore and history of Madison County, the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival welcomes thousands of visitors into Madison County each year. Patrons from Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa and beyond join in celebrating the heritage, history and world-famous covered bridges that inspired a best-selling novel, award-winning Hollywood movie and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Crowd favorite activities include the quilt show, car show, parade and spelling bee, as well as arts and crafts vendors, old-fashioned demonstrators, festival food, live entertainment, a chalk artist and more!

Games at the Madison County Bridge Festival Events at the Madison County Bridge Festival

This year’s festival aims to take the celebration to new heights with the theme of “Dream Big Dreams” in honor of the life and inspiration Winterset resident Dr. George Washington Carver bestowed upon the community, region and world. Special guest and renowned George Washington Carver expert and actor Paxton Williams will portray Dr. Carver over the weekend through interactive children’s programming, appearances and during the parade.

Collect Memories and Coins

Continuing with the time-held tradition, each year a limited-edition coin is minted with a notable community feature. True to this year’s theme, Dr. George Washington Carver will be displayed on the bronze coin. Those who fancy themselves as an avid collector will want to be sure to collect one of the limited 900 coins designed using original artwork by local artist Carol Bassett.

At the heart of the celebration are the six historic covered bridges, some more than 140-years-old. Originally covered as a cheaper means to protecting the roadway, each tell a unique tale of historic significance.

What better way to dive into the narrative of each than at the festival celebrating them all.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the fourth largest regional Chamber of Commerce in the nation. Learn about Partnership Affiliate Chambers and discover more Affiliate Chamber events.