by Kalie Ammons
“How does this little town do it?” Donna Harman hears this question on the regular when she talks about the Roann Covered Bridge Festival. The festival is a huge event that draws a crowd every year.
“I’ve been helping with this festival for, I don’t know, 30-something years. We’ve been living in the Roann area for 38 years. …I really enjoy it and it’s so much fun,” Harman, the festival organizer, told The Paper.
So what will be drawing the crowd this year? The festival is packed with activities as always, ranging from tractor shows to Euchre. The festival starts Thursday, Sept. 5 at 8 a.m. with arts and crafts registration until noon. Then from 5-10 p.m. the vendors open and the rides begin.
“Thursday’s new event this year is a tractor rodeo. Farmers of the area are doing a farm truck and semi-farm truck pull at the pull field this year. And they’ve done a lot of improvements this year for the track down there. The put up a barricade for safety purposes,” explains Harman.
Another new attraction this year, organized by Cameron Huffman, is “Olde Town,” a set up by the cabins in Roann that will bring festival goers to a simpler time. There will be rug looping and candle making as participants look inside the cabin and listen to the music of Liza and Mark Woolever, who will be on the streets Saturday “with their old-time tunes and instruments.”
“Another big attraction, which we hear they are retiring, but our biggest attraction of Thursday is Spike and the Bulldogs. This might be your last chance to see them. On Friday night we’re having God’s Country,” said Harman.
The car show cruise-in will take place on Friday night. This is the cruise-in’s fourth year, and has so far topped out with the most preregistrations the festival has seen. There are usually around 50 cars, but this year looks like it’s going to be packed.
There will be a little something for the country music fans out there, too. The Roann festival does its best to have an array of entertainment to spark all interests.
“Sugar Shot is playing on Saturday night, and they’re a group out of Fort Wayne, and they have an awesome fiddle player. Two ladies are the lead singers and they’re kind of country rock,” Harman explains.
All entertainment will be in the community building in the case of rain.
Of course, Roann Richvalley Tenderloins will be making their annual appearance at the festival. Remember to stop and grab one to complete your festival experience.
All of the proceeds from the Roann Covered Bridge Festival go back into the funds for the next year. The festival is made possible by volunteers who meet 10 months out of the year to plan and organize the events.
“All the advertising and what we get from vendor rental space goes into the festival funds for entertainment, like this year we’re doing upgrades. So we’re going to upgrade all of our electricity to meet the state rules. We have a little expense for that this year so we don’t get shut down. But then it’s all put back into the festival,” said Harman.
The people that make all of this possible are as follows:
Donna Harman—contact person for entertainment, coordinating information for flyer and festival organizer.
Beckie Elliot—chairman of vendors, makes contact with them after receiving applications and lays out the map for vendor parking.
Carol Long and LuAnn Layman—Plan the activities for Prince & Princess, Cutie King & Queen, kids games, pet parade, Minute-to-win-it and more.
Marsha Haffner—treasurer and does a great job keeping the records correct.
Cameron Huffman—joined at the follow up meeting last fall with many exciting ideas.
Valerie Doud and Ann Meyer—chairmen for the parade that will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. This year’s theme is “Historic Roann,” and will be followed with free Schwan’s ice cream.
With such dedicated volunteers making the festival so enjoyable each year, Harman wonders about the future:
“I hope the next generation takes it over.”
So bring the kids and have an activity packed weekend in Roann. Maybe one day they will be asking Spike and the Bull Dogs to come out of retirement and play another show while they grab a tenderloin at the Roann Covered Bridge Festival.