Photo Provided - A group from Centreville United Methodist Church rolls down the parade route during the 2019 Centreville Covered Bridge Days festival. This year’s festival runs on July 9 and 10, with the parade on July 10 at 5 p.m.

Covered Bridge Days returns on different weekend

CENTREVILLE — Covered Bridge Days is back for 2021, but not exactly in the time slot many in the community are used to.

This year’s event, the first in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place July 9 and 10 with a multitude of events and activities happening around the entire village of Centreville.

The event usually occurs on the third weekend of July, so as not to conflict with White Pigeon Days on the second July weekend, but Covered Bridge Days chair and Centreville Village Council President Brandy Eckert said the rescheduling had to do with scheduling issues with a popular festival event.

She said the group helping The Local with a cornhole tournament and beer garden could only reschedule for the second weekend in July for 2021 when 2020’s event got cancelled, leading to organizers moving up the event so as not to lose a popular attraction for the 2021 edition.

“We didn't want to lose the local businesses being part of Covered Bridge Days, and we didn't want to lose the cornhole event. We get a lot of people requesting that, and we wanted to make sure we had that part of the festival again this year,” Eckert said.

Because of the scheduling change, Eckert said it put some vendors between a rock and a hard place.

“We have had people send in vendor forms saying they wish we didn't do this to them, because this has hurt so many vendors, because they go to these festivals as extra income,” Eckert said. “Having to choose one or the other is rough on them, but it's rough on us too having to make the decision. We had to go with that for our community and for our businesses.”

Despite the schedule change, Eckert said she is excited for the nearly 50-year-old festival to come back after not having one last year.

“We are excited about it going forward, and going forward, we’re looking at growing it even more, and hopefully by then things will be a bit more normalized,” Eckert said.

Eckert said there will still be plenty of interesting activities coming to the festival, all based around the theme of “Bulldog Pride.” New events include pedal tractor pulls on Clark Street Saturday, a second day for face painting for kids, an open house at the fire station, and Camp Bulldog on Saturday afternoon on the courthouse lawn, with children’s activities featuring members of the state champion varsity football team and high school cheerleading squad.

“We’ll have the football players and some varsity cheerleaders putting on activities, like a Bulldog cheerleading routine, potato sack races, three-legged races, and there’ll be prizes given out. That way, they can get involved with the kids and get more into the volunteer effort,” Eckert said.

There will also be some historical-themed events at this year’s festival honoring the history of the village, put on by the Daughters of the American Revolution: A wagon tour of the village’s significant spots on Friday, ending at the old cemetery, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Margaret Langley Saturday morning. Eckert said the wreath-laying is a way to honor the Langley family, who helped contribute to the village in its early days.

“This is Covered Bridge Days, but we don’t actually do anything at the Covered Bridge, and the Covered Bridge is by the Langley family, so we’re honoring the family by laying a wreath at Margaret Langley’s grave,” Eckert said. “We’re going to do that as a tradition moving forward.”

The DAR will also be doing presentations on their efforts to restore the old cemetery in Centreville, as well as a founder’s tour around the cemetery. Eckert said the group are also looking at trying to have signs in the cemetery at some of the historical gravesites explaining the significance of some of the people buried there who “made Centreville what it is.”

“The theme this year is Bulldog Pride, and we really want to make it about the community, and it’s really important this year,” Eckert said. “This is our community, this is our home, and we really want to pay homage to that.”

Returning events to the festival include a Touch-a-Truck event Friday featuring vehicles from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, Centreville Fire Department, Centreville Department of Public Works and more, a Lions Club Ox Roast Saturday afternoon, a pancake breakfast at the Centreville Fire Department Saturday morning, a 5K run Saturday morning, and balloon twister “Scoop The Balloonatic” both Friday and Saturday.

The festival’s parade, following the theme of “Bulldog Pride,” will take place Saturday evening at 5 p.m. Lineup for the parade starts at 4:15 p.m. at the Nottawa Street entrance to the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds. At the end of the parade, Eckert said, there will be a recognition of the state champion varsity football team, with head coach Jerry Schultz speaking about the team and its accomplishments, as well as announcing the players.

Another event on the docket is a car demo by the Centreville Fire Department on Saturday, which Eckert said was a way for firefighters to show off new equipment they received to rescue people from crashed cars. Shears Wrecking Company donated the car to be used for the event.

“The fire department got new equipment, so they’ll be using the new equipment and some of the old equipment, kind of doing a demo showing the difference in the equipment we have and why it’s important they have these upgrades,” Eckert said.

Overall, Eckert said there’s a lot to enjoy about this year’s festival.

“Everyone should look forward to the friendly atmosphere and fun times,” Eckert said. “It’s just good, clean fun for the family. We hope everyone comes down, has fun, and enjoys their time. It’s been a stressful year and a half, two years, and people need a little happiness right now.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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