PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Historical Society (PCHS) held its annual Bridges, Bikes & Blues Covered Bridge Tour and Festival on Saturday, June 16.
Starting from the historic PCHS property, the tour was a 75-mile scenic ride through the local covered bridges, including Roberts Bridge, which only opens once a year for this event.
The tour ended at the Historical Society, where there was live music, a beer garden, food and merchandise vendors and more. This year, rides began with only one wave of bikes at 1:30 p.m. The bikes returned to the grounds at 5:30 p.m., where Jay Jesse Johnson and The Worley Boys performed.
According to PCHS Board President Brian Smith, the idea behind BBB is to allow a group of people to experience Preble County through the covered bridges.
“If you look at any of the other major bike rallies or events that include bikes, they have a clear view of everything around them. What better way to experience the historical nature of the bridges of our county? Outside of Madison County, we have the most covered bridges still intact anywhere in this country. What better way to experience that than a motorcycle?” Smith said.
“This year we drew in over 190 bikes. This is an event we do to celebrate our covered bridges in Preble County, as well as get the bikers out and get people out through those bridges. People come from all over. We have a partnership with the Iron Workers Association, which a lot of those guys are bikers and they spread the word all over the region.”
“The Iron Workers lead the tour and bring up the rear,” Smith said. “We also have, with the Iron Workers, the ability to repair broken bikes or anything else that happens along the way. On top of the bike ride, we have food vendors, The Worley Boys playing and Jay Jesse Johnson, and overall tour of the grounds as people hang out and enjoy themselves.”
This was the second year of the festival being held at the Historical Society, instead of downtown Eaton. According to Smith, the change was to make the celebration “fresh” again and bring awareness to the Historical Society grounds.
“As anything happens, things get stale overtime. We thought of a way to revamp how we do things. When we were in downtown Eaton, you had a small beer garden and a small space on the courthouse steps for the artists. It really ran its course, so to speak,” he said.
“Here, we have this beautiful amphitheater, the perfect stage for artists to perform. Why not start and end here, where we have food vendors, music, and the ability for the beer garden to be throughout the entire grounds. Everyone can flow throughout the grounds as they see fit, without being constrained to a certain area. I think, by moving it down here, we picked it up a little bit. We kept it fresh.”
“We hope it brings awareness to the Historical Society,” he added. “The fact that it starts and ends here, we bring new people here, people who have never been here before. This year is an off year for a couple reasons, one being that our exhibit hall is currently closed due to a grant funded renovation to climate control the building and improve the exhibits.
“That is kind of a negative, but if you look around, we have several hundred people already here and we hope more will funnel in as the night goes on. We want people to experience what we have here, so they will come back.”
Smith added, this event wouldn’t be possible without the ride participants, sponsors, and volunteers.
Sponsors for the event included: Preble County Historical Society Board of Trustees, Preble County Sheriff Department and Sheriff Mike Simpson, Ohio Eagle Distributors, Adams Rib BBQ, Alley Cat Tattoo, Ullery’s Ice Cream, Preble County Medical Center, Preble County Development Partnership, Brown Transport, Roselius Insurance Agency, Remagen, Henny Penny, BullenTech, Summit Chiropractic, Lowman Heating & Air, Twin Valley Bank, American Legion Post 215, Buckeye Jake’s, Preble County Chamber of Commerce, Rodney Cobb/Ed Larkin Chevrolet GMC, Reid Health, Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Silfex, LCNB, LawnPlus, Preble County Ace Hardware, Wings Etc, Papa John’s, Nacho Pig, Chuck Wagon, Timkensteel, The Worley Boys and Jay Jesse Johnson.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH