Covered Bridge Festival Lineup

The 47th Annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival will be held in beautiful Winterset this Saturday and Sunday, October 8th and 9th, and the lineup of events is a fantastic blend of old favorites and new attractions, sure to provide a memorable experience for thousands of residents and guests. While the primary festival grounds are located on the town square, there are countless organizations and activities all over the county that contribute to this great weekend every year. As a member of the Covered Bridge Festival Committee, I can say with certainty that all of those contributions are a treasured and appreciated part of the fabric we speak of in this year’s theme: “Quilted Gems: Precious Fabric of Madison County.”

Congratulations to our 2016 festival royalty: Glenna Finney, Queen, and Bill Paull, King. Their presentation ceremony will take place on the courthouse steps at 9:50 am on Saturday.

Saturday Only

Most Covered Bridge Festival activities are open all weekend, but a few things are only available on Saturday or Sunday. Saturday items include:

7:00 am, Saturday only: Covered Bridge Race registration begins at 7:00 am. Children’s event begins at 8:00 am, with the 4K and 8K Run/Walk events to begin at 8:15 am. Located at Cutler-Donahue Covered Bridge in Winterset City Park. Sponsored by The Winterset Rotary Club. See race brochure for details.

8:00 am — 5:00 pm, Saturday only: Winterset Airport activitiesparking and shuttle bus service to the festival grounds available all day. They will also have antique aircraft on display, skydive demonstration at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, kids’ activities, and airplane rides for $20 per person. (Three guests at a time can go up in an aircraft and fly over the festival grounds and Hogback Covered Bridge.)

8:30 am, Saturday only: 15th Annual Covered Bridges of Madison County Antique Tractor Ride starting at Madison County Fairgrounds. Contact Curtis Saveraid at 515-210-7806.

8:30 am, Saturday only: Annual Horseshoe Tournament. Registration and warm-up from 8:30 – 9:30 am. Pitching begins at 10:00 am., with $10 entry fee. Located at the Madison County Fairgrounds. Sanctioned and unsanctioned members are welcome. For more information, contact the Winterset Parks and Recreation Department at 515-462-3258.

5:00 pm to 8:00 pm weather and winds permitting, Saturday only: Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides conducted by Boden Ballooning in the field behind the Winterset School District Administration offices, $20 per person. Please note that this is a correction from the previously scheduled time of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Tethered hot air balloon rides will be available on Saturday only, in the field behind the Winterset School District Administration Building (the old high school).

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday only: View the beautiful neighborhoods in Winterset from an old-fashioned horse-drawn wagon, and step away from the bustle of the festival for a while! Rides leave from the west side of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum; $10.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday only: Winterset Public Library Family activities include quilt crafts for kids and open library time.

10:00 am, Noon, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, Saturday only: “Patchwork Heirlooms: Care and Storage of Quilts” presented by Virginia Berger at the Iowa Quilt Museum, 68 E. Court Ave. Virginia will share information about ideal conditions for caring for and storing those quilts which are, or may someday become, family heirlooms.

11:00 am and 1:00 pm, Saturday only: “The Abridged History of Quilting” presented by Marianne Fons at the Iowa Quilt Museum, 68 E. Court Ave.

The new Iowa Quilt Museum will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday. Pictured L-R: Marianne Fons, Board President; Megan Barrett, Museum Director; Barb Huston, Quilter and Donor; and Brenda Hollingsworth, Board Member.

12:00 Noon, Saturday only: High Noon Shoot Out by the Cowboys of Wild West Creations— Madison County won’t tolerate 1880’s style lawlessness! The Old West comes alive in this battle for unclaimed territory, on the west side of the courthouse square. (Please note: The Cowboys are using blanks.)

1:00 pm — 9:00 pm, Saturday only: Winterset High School Alumni Activities. Welcome reception at Farmers & Merchants State Bank Hospitality Room from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and All-Class Reunion at the Jackson Building at the Fairgrounds from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.


3:00 pm, Saturday only: Quilt of Valor Presentation and Quilt Auction to benefit the Iowa Quilt Museum, located on the Penrod Stage. More details (and photos!) will follow in my next post.

6:45 pm, Saturday only: Nighttime Civil War Cannon Firing at the Madison County Historical Complex, 815 S. 2nd Avenue; Enjoy s’mores, a bonfire, and family fun! Bring lawn chairs or a blanket.

CivilWarBattlePoster20166 pm – 9 pm, Saturday only: Get your tickets today for Meet Me at the Bridge, held on Saturday evening at 6:00 pm at the North Shelter in Winterset City Park. This outdoor event features live music and food, and is a great way to gather with friends and family at the end of the first day of the Covered Bridge Festival. A smoked pork sandwich meal for $10 is offered, with wine tasting and sales by Covered Bridges Winery. Crosswind will perform, so bring your dancing shoes! You’ll also have a chance to win a Holland grill, meat certificates from Hy-Vee and Fareway, and free propane refills courtesy of Agriland. Tickets for the meal can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office.


Sunday Only

8:00 am to Noon, Sunday only: Registration for the 30th annual Madison County Car Show, hosted by the Central Iowa Auto Club. Judging begins at 1:30 pm, and awards presented at 3:00 pm. 110 W. Washington Street (field behind the Winterset School District Administration Building).


10:00 am and 1:00 pm, Sunday only: “DIY Barn Quilt Block Painting Demonstration” presented by Mark Davis at the Iowa Quilt Museum, inside the festival grounds at 68 E. Court Ave.

2:00 pm, Sunday only: Antique Vehicle and Covered Bridge Festival Parade, brought to you by the Winterset Lions Club. Lineup begins at 12:00 pm in the Winterset High School parking lot. Click here for parade route and information.

4:00 pm, Sunday only: Cowboys Shoot Out. Madison County won’t tolerate 1800’s style lawlessness! The Old West comes alive in this battle for unclaimed territory. Don’t miss the shoot-out by the Cowboys of Wild West Creations on the west side of the festival grounds. (Please note: The Cowboys are using blanks.)

Saturday & Sunday

6:00 am – 11:00 am, Saturday and Sunday: Firefighters’ Pancake Breakfast at the Fire Station, SE of the festival grounds.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Festival on the Square – Over 150 vendors including arts and crafts, wineries, demonstrators, foods, entertainment stages, and more! There is a $2 admission fee at the gate, but children 11 and under are FREE. Located on the square in historic downtown Winterset.


9:00 am – 5:00 pm Saturday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm SundayQuilt Show hosted by the Covered Bridge Quilters – quilt boutique, vendors and demonstrators, and a quilt raffle. Located at Winterset Elementary School, $3.00 admission fee.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Farmers Market on the southwest side of the square (on 1st Avenue).

9:00 am — 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Festival live entertainment on the Mel Penrod Stage (south side of the courthouse steps) and the Benge Family Stage (northwest corner of the festival grounds on Jefferson St.). For a complete schedule of the two days’ entertainment, times and locations, see Highlights include the Junior and Senior Spelling Bees, a Civil War Fashion Show, lots of good instrumental and vocal music, dancing by Winterset Ballet & Dance students, a Quilt of Valor presentation and Quilt Auction, and more.

Click for a complete schedule of entertainment on the Mel Penrod Stage and the Benge Family Stage. Photo of Mel Penrod by Dave Trask.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Pioneer Village – located in the grassy areas of the courthouse square. See live demonstrations of crafts from the turn of the century, including alpaca hair spinning and weaving, stipling art, pottery making, jewelry making and metal smithing, basket weaving, woodcarving (chainsaw woodcarver Andy Klindt will be here!), fiber spinning and weaving, paper making, soap making, sheep shearing, candle making, and more! You will also find glass-blowing demonstrations inside Madhaus Gallery (10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday), and yarn doll making inside Heartland Fiber (10:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday, and 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Sunday).

Chainsaw carving by Andy Klindt will be located in the grassy area on the northeast corner of the square!

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Kidz Korner Children’s Activities – Make crafts, participate in old-fashioned games and activities, get autographs from the Wild West Cowboys, grow peanuts, take old-fashioned school lessons, go on a turtle egg hunt, play in the corn box, and more! FREE to youth. Sponsored by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Winterset Public Library (Saturday only), Winterset Art Center, Master Gardeners, Freedom for Youth Ministries, ISU Extension & Outreach, Madison County Historical Society, MCFEE, and Madison County Historical Complex.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Create a Covered Bridge by Morry Hay and Tom Clause, hosted by the Madison County Chamber. Create a replica of the Cedar Covered Bridge and learn about the unique and important construction of this Madison County icon. Located on the northwest side of the Festival grounds.


9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Madison County Historical Complex “Passport To The Past” activities, including penny candy sales, free horse and wagon rides, Tusha School old-fashioned school lessons by Madison County Cares, Civil War encampment with battles, Bevington-Kaser Mansion and Madison County Historical Museum tours, and more. Located at 815 S. 2nd Avenue, FREE admission.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: John Wayne Birthplace Museum Tours – $15 adults, $4 seniors (60+) $8 kids (12 & under)

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: John Wayne Birthplace Trail Self-Guided Tour. Pick up maps from the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, or the Madison County Historical Complex. Take a driving tour throughout Madison County to view historic locations in the life of world-famous actor, John Wayne!

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Master Gardeners demonstrations and lessons based on the life and work of George Washington Carver. Explore cotton plants, make peanut butter, and enjoy the park dedicated to George Washington Carver. Activities are at Carver Park, SE of festival grounds.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Enjoy a variety of art activities at the Winterset Art Center, including make-and-take crafts, spin art (from 10am-2pm), quilt square art project, and outdoor demonstrations.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Support Bras for the Cause by casting your vote for your favorite bra creation. Purchase tickets for $1 each. All proceeds stay with Bras for the Cause to fund cancer screening for Madison County residents. Located in the former American State Bank Building, 113 S. John Wayne Drive.

9:00 am — 5:00 pm Saturday and 9:00 am — 2:00 pm Sunday: Horse and Carriage Rides by Dream Carriage around Winterset City Park. $5 per rider.

10:00 am – Noon on Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Saturday, and 10:00 am to 11:00 am on SundayMeet the Cowboys! 1880s-style cowboys and colorful outlaw characters will stroll the festival grounds, meet festival patrons, pose for photos, and award sheriff’s badges Cowboys’ appearance is courtesy of Wild West Creations.

10 am – 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Historic Madison County Courthouse Tours. A covered bridge kiosk in the northwest part of the courthouse lawn will be the place to gather for tours at 10:00 am, Noon, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm on both days. The guided tours will last 40 minutes and may even be led by Susan B. Anthony. Brochures will be handed out so that you can explore more of the National Historic District on your own and learn about a few early Winterset citizens.

couthouse plans 1876-2-2
Those who tour the Madison County Courthouse can see the 1876 building plans that were found in the courthouse and are currently on display.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to Noon on Sunday: Covered Bridge Bus Tours. The Winterset Rotary Club offers daily tours (with guide) to the covered bridges. Purchase tickets at the ticket booth on the southwest side of the festival grounds. Buses depart from the Winterset School District Administration Building, 110 W. Washington Street, every 20 minutes. Tours are 90 to 100 minutes in duration, $10 per ticket.

A bus tour of the covered bridges is a great way to see them without getting lost! Lots of other historic attractions along the way, including a stop at the North River Stone Schoolhouse.

1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: Tours of the historic Iowa Theater, now under re-construction and preparing to open in 2017.


4:00 pm on Saturday and Noon on Sunday, Civil War Camp Skirmish at the Madison County Historical Complex. Provided by the Army of the Southwest and the Rendezvous Men, you can visit with a soldier, learn about the cannons, rifles, and facts of life during the Civil War. More information about activities at the Madison County Historical Complex during Covered Bridge Days can be found here:



Before I go, as promised, here are those printable schedule links:

Saturday, October 8th: Covered Bridge Festival Schedule

Sunday, October 9th: Covered Bridge Festival Schedule

Complete information about this year’s festival can be found at

It has been my great pleasure to be involved with the Covered Bridge Festival planning committee for the last couple of years. As I mentioned at the outset of this post, the committee is beholden to the incredibly numerous citizens and groups all over town who support the festival with their own time and talents: the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, Central Iowa Auto Club, Covered Bridge Quilters, the Art Center, the merchants, the museums, the Music Club and Jorgensen Studio, the Winterset Firemen and Police, the Library, Winterset Airport, the Historical Society, and so many more. If you are an active participant or supporter of the festival in any way, thank you.

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