EATON — Bridges, Bikes & Blues rolled back into Preble County this past weekend, bringing with it bikers, blues concerts, and barbecue.
The Preble County Historical Society-sponsored blues festival is held every year, but unlike in past years, this time the celebration was held solely on the grounds of the Historical Society, instead of downtown Eaton.
Bridges, Bikes & Blues is first and foremost a covered bridge tour. Held every Father’s Day weekend, the tour starts at the Historical Society, on to a 75-mile scenic ride, and (starting this year) ended up right back at the PCHS for the festival portion of the day.
At the Historical Society, there was live music, a beer garden, food, merchandise to purchase, and more.
Misti Spillman, Executive Director of the Preble County Historical Society explained, ““We try to hit a certain amount of bridges in the county, because there are eight covered bridges. We do that in the morning and then the bikers come down to the Society, register and so forth. Then they hang out, then we have roll-outs with the bikes. Usually, we would end up in downtown Eaton, but this year we decided to do things different and have it out here at the Society.
“This is the sixth year that we’ve done it, and after some feedback from some of the bikers last year, they just wanted to see something different. So, we thought we would have it out here, because we have the venue for it, we have the space for it, and we thought we would give it a roll and see how it went.”
Part of the motivation for holding the festival at the Society, was to bring extra attention to the grounds and the work they do. The Preble County Historical Society is a non-profit corporation organized in 1971 with the mission to promote knowledge of Preble County and to collect, preserve, display, and maintain materials and objects of all types which have historical interest and significance to Preble County.
Spillman added, “We wanted more people to come this year, but we also wanted to bring more awareness to the Society. I mean, a lot of people don’t know that this is here and what we can offer. So we just want people to come out and have a good time.”
According to Spillman, the blues ride started as a poker run and then grew over time. Adding the motorcycles and covered bridge tour aspect was a huge success, she added.
In past years, the same bands played every year, but recently the Society has been trying to highlight local bands. The performers this year were The Worley Boys and Scotty Bratcher. “We just try to keep it in the community so they can come out and support them,” Spillman explained.
“The attendance has been better than last year,” she said. “That’s something that we always try to build on. The afterwards part, the evening activities, has also gone really well. We had about 300 bikes. That’s about the same amount that we had last year, so it went really well. We tried to market the evening activities hard this year, because usually it’s downtown. It’s out here this year, so we really got the word out that we wanted people to come to the Historical Society. I think it’s been well received.
“I want to thank all of our sponsors who helped us out this year for the event. The musicians — the Worley Boys, and Scotty Bratcher. Especially, all of the volunteers who made this possible.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH