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Celebrating nostalgia, family

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TURNOUT: Despite Friday’s rain, there was still a strong turnout at the Roann Covered Bridge Festival.
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CLOWN: Children watch as a clown makes balloon animals during the Roann Covered Bridge Festival on Friday.
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BAND: Local band the Moon Cats perform in the Roann Community Building on Friday night.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

ROANN — A rainy weekend wasn’t enough to stop families from attending the Roann Covered Bridge Festival, which concludes this afternoon. 

The annual festival draws families from around the county and region to celebrate Roann’s heritage, held the weekend after Labor Day. The event coincided with other popular festivals in the county, including the Eel River Arts Festival on Saturday and Dam to Dam Century Ride slated to be held today.

The four-day festival opened Thursday evening and will conclude today with popular events like the mud volleyball contest, which festival organizer Donna Harman hopes will draw a large crowd this year despite the gloomy forecast this weekend.

“Last year, I think we had something like 31 teams,” Harman said. “It starts around 12:30 p.m. and usually does not end until about 5 or 6 p.m. That’s our biggest event.”

All proceeds from the entry fees, which are $1 per person, go back into the festival fund to help keep the annual event going.

Harman is optimistic the contest will be successful, with a little help from the rain.

“Usually the fire department has to go and water it down so it’s nice and muddy, so maybe this year they won’t have to do so much of that,” Harman said.

Other family-friendly events will include a boxcar derby, kiddie tractor pull contest and a bicycle rodeo. All events will offer prizes, such as toy tractors for tractor pull contestants or a bike to the winner of the bicycle rodeo.

Another popular contest with cash and trophy prizes was the annual skillet throwing contest held Saturday evening. Harman said the contest is a women-only event, though she would like to see it expanded to allow men to participate.

The inclement weather had a minimal impact on the festival this year, with the tractor pull scheduled for Friday night being cancelled, live music relocated to the Roann Community Building and the karaoke contest moved to Roann Town Hall.

“Not as many people get to watch the bands when they are inside, but at least they get to play. We’re thankful we have some place for them to go,” Harman said.

As with other festivals, this year’s event boasted a theme of “Surf’in U.S.A.,” which Harman says adds a bit more fun to the scheduled events and parade. Committee members dressed in Hawaiian shirts and parade floats were decorated to match, along with a Beach Boys cover band coming in Saturday.

Harman added that despite the gloomy weather, she was pleased with the strong turnout over the weekend.