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Patrick County's covered bridge festival may get boost
Could become a state 'official' event
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A scene from last year's covered bridge festival.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

By SHAWN HOPKINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Legislation being considered in the General Assembly may lead to wider recognition for Patrick County's Covered Bridge Festival in Woolwine.

Both state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway, and Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Collinsville, have introduced legislation this session that would name Patrick County's festival the official state covered bridge festival. Reynolds' bill recently was approved by the Senate, and Armstrong's is being considered by the House Committee on Rules.

Jeannie Frisco, Patrick County's tourism coordinator, said Patrick is the only county in Virginia with more than one covered bridge that is recognized as a state and national historic landmark on public land. The county has both the Bob White and Jack's Creek covered bridges.

"There's eight in the commonwealth, and two are here," she said.

The county has rehabilitated the bridges and has held two covered bridge festivals, the last of which organizers said drew several hundred people from as far as Florida. The covered bridge festival is the only festival the county runs, Frisco said.

The county has incorporated the two bridges into its "branding," using pictures of them in its marketing materials.

However, she said, the county has been able to see how having the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce's Peach Festival named the state's official peach festival has helped the popularity of that event.

An official state festival designation allows for broader exposure, she said, because it will be marketed in state tourism guides and materials.

This would add the "recognition of the commonwealth's name and tie it to the local festival," Frisco said.

An amendment was included to Reynolds' bill which also will specify in the name of the festival that it is "held in Patrick County."�

Frisco said that if the bill passes, it will not become law until July 1, too late for the June 16 festival.

However, the 2008 festival would be able to take advantage of the state designation, she said.


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