10th Dinner on the Bridge draws 300

Mitchell Banks

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The longest covered bridge in the United States received 300 visitors on Aug. 7 night.

The event was the 10th Dinner on the Bridge, sponsored by Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge.

Country Cookin’ of Salem catered the event that also featured door prize giveaways and music from Donna and Wes Griffin.

Nick Walden, an artist and volunteer with Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge, said the event sold out 300 tickets, and he rated the evening a success.

“I just love my town and it’s great to see so many people come out and support the bridge,” he said.

More than $400 was raised toward a raffle for an ironing board featuring art of the Medora Covered Bridge.

Walden said sales of a commemorative T-shirt of the bridge also were steady on Aug. 7.

A unique aspect of this year’s dinner, Walden said, was that it was the first time in the event’s 10-year history that electricity powered the sound equipment instead of a generator.

Security cameras also have been installed on the bridge since the last dinner in 2019. The 2020 edition was canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As for how proceeds from this year are going to be used, Walden said the funds raised will mainly goes toward maintenance and mowing of the grass around bridge. Some of it also is being saved for use for future projects.

The security cameras were a project that was funded through donations and fundraisers throughout the years.

No plan has been solidified as to what the next project will be for the bridge, but ideas are being tossed around by volunteers.

A man who describes himself as “troll that lives under the bridge,” Morris Tippin of Medora mows the land around the bridge and has been a big supporter of the 434-foot bridge, built in 1875 by Joseph J. Daniels of Rockville.

The bridge was closed to traffic in 1972 but remains open to pedestrians and bicyclists today. The Burr truss design bridge took nine months to build and cost $18,142. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was renovated in 2011.

Tippin said his enthusiasm for the covered bridges started in 1957 when he was living in Putnam County where he was born and raised.. A big flood washed out five covered bridges and Tippin said his father bought two of them at a public auction.

The bridges were repurposed into a chicken house, a corn crib and a couple of other outbuildings.

When he later moved to Medora, Tippin said he thought the grounds around the bridge were not in very good shape and he talked to some visitors about rallying to clean the grounds up.

“I don’t like seeing them torn down,” he said.

One year, he said a sign-in book was kept to see where visitors of the bridge were coming from. People from every state and 39 countries had visited the Medora Covered Bridge.

Tippin thought this year’s dinner was successful and said it was more successful and anticipated.

Planning started two months later than it normally does because of the pandemic, but thanks to a “very good group of volunteers,” Tippin said the dinner went off without a hitch.

His sister, Margaret Kessinger, was also in attendance for the dinner.

She said it was her eighth year attending the dinner and had a great time.

“Every year I look forward to it,” she said.