ROCKVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The Parke County Board of Commissioners have voted to cancel this year's Covered Bridge Festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commissioners voted 2-0 Monday with one member abstaining to cancel the event that had been scheduled for Oct. 9-18, the Tribune-Star reported.
Commissioner Bruce Hartman said he had spoken to many local health care and emergency management professionals recently and had “come to the conclusion there is a absolutely a risk to the people of Parke County.”
Hartman said he had heard from residents on both sides of the issue but not one had presented a solid reason to hold the festival other than the income it generates.
As one resident pointed out to him, Hartman said, “Money’s no good if you’re dead" from the coronavirus.
The festival in years past has attracted as many as 1 million visitors to the rustic western Indiana county to enjoy its 31 covered bridges.
Commissioner Jim Meece agreed with Hartman, saying there was no realistic way the county could enforce or hope to achieve anti-COVID measures recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health.
Community spread in Parke County would be likely, Meece said, and the infection of even a handful of first responders could prove both dangerous and lasting for Parke County residents given the limited number of public safety personnel it has.
“I think we have to act on the side of the health and welfare and safety of our people,” Meece said.