MINGO PARK (KDKA) — The Ebeneezer Bridge in Mingo Park, Washington County, is one of 10 that will be featured in the 44th annual “Covered Bridge Festival.”

J. R. Shaw of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce says 100,000 visitors are expected at the festival, the weekend of Sept. 20.

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“We are blessed to have 23 covered bridges in Washington County,” he adds, “and that is the second largest amount in any Commonwealth in Pennsylvania.”

The Ebeneezer is one of 10 covered bridges in Washington and neighboring Greene counties where the festival takes place. Each site plans its own activities.

“Some are more arts and crafts focused,” Shaw says. “Some are more heritage focused, and have more reenactments. Historic reenactments. All of them have great food. All of them have great music. All of them celebrate the charm of the rural heritage of the covered bridges that are in their community.”

The covered bridge was known as a place to sneak a kiss, unobserved. Hence the nickname, “Kissing Bridges.”

But why were these bridges covered in the first place?

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Some say it was to keep horses from looking over the edge, into the river or the stream, and getting spooked. Others claimed it was to ward off evil spirits.

But Shaw says the real answer is a bit less dramatic.

“The truth is, they built them as covered bridges to protect the bridge deck,” he said.

In any case, festival sites are the place to be, on the third weekend of September.

“Days are getting a little bit cooler,” Shaw says. “The leaves are beginning to change. You combine that with the Covered Bridge Festival, it’s a magical environment.”

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