Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival Promotes the County and Preserves the Local Bridges by Custom Keepsake Sales

(Photo From Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival Facebook)

About Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival

The Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival is a family-oriented festival founded in 1985 and occurs each year to promote the county, help preserve the bridges, and educate the public. The festival happens on the 2nd weekend in October and brings in people from all over the United States! The organization also has an office open year-round from which they plan and run the festival, conduct educational programs, sell souvenirs of the county’s bridges, and distribute tour maps with information to visitors. The organization lives up to its mission to support the county by running the festival, as well as supporting all visitors and the community.

Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival’s Mission

The Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival’s mission is to promote the Ashtabula County while helping to preserve and maintain the bridges. “So many covered bridges have been lost to ‘progress’, it’s cheaper to replace them with a concrete or steel bridge, but covered bridges last longer, and are an important part of our history that should not be lost” said the Executive Director, Ginger Whitehead. The organization helps the community in many ways like by preserving the history of the county’s covered bridges, protecting those bridges, and educating the community. All of which will only help to prolong the life of the county’s history and covered bridges.

Not only does its mission help to fund the preservation of the covered bridges, but the festival and covered bridges help to keep tourists coming to the county. That provides income to many hotels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and shops in the county. During the festival, the organization allows nonprofits to set up tents to help raise money for their nonprofits. Helping one another in a community is essential, and this organization shines in that aspect.

(Photo From Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival Facebook)

Meet Ginger Whitehead of the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival

To begin learning more about the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival the Executive Director, Ginger Whitehead, was gracious enough to give us some great information about the organization. Ginger started over 25 years ago when her sister, who was on the board at the organization, asked her for help with some children’s activities during the festival. Both Ginger and her sister are still at the organization today. Over Ginger’s time at the organization, she had joined the board as a member, became the souvenir chairperson, vice president of the board, and in 2014, she stepped down from the board to become the Executive Director. Ginger has been running the festival ever since. She states, “the most rewarding part is the satisfaction of knowing that the mission is continuing, and that people still love to come to the festival and support us.”

Forging A Partnership with Beacon Design

The Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival originally started looking for something different to help fundraise, something they thought their visitors and community members could collect year-after-year. The organization sells them at the festival, on the website, and in baskets that they donate to other nonprofit fundraisers. All profits earned when selling the year’s collectible go towards the following year’s ornament order. Using the funds to help fundraise for the future custom annual keepsake only helps the organization from having to pay for it out of pocket. Any monies raised beyond what they pay for the next year’s ornament will help to raise funds for future festivities.

The organization has worked with Beacon Design for six years to create beautiful pieces of bridges around their county. Ginger mentions, “They [Beacon Design’s sales and design team] are very easy to work with, knowledgeable, creative, anticipating what we need. I think the ornaments get more beautiful every year.” Beacon Design has a quality sales team that helps customers, like Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, from idea to design to production. All in all, this assistance only allows our customers to focus on the thing that’s most important to them, fundraising.

(Photo From Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival Facebook)

Building Lifelong Collectors

A big part of the captivation of annual custom ornaments is to create lifelong collectors. Many organizations tell Beacon Design that their customers and donors search for the next design to complete their collection. Ginger stated, “Everyone thinks they are amazing, beautifully crafted, a great Christmas present for themselves or others, many are looking forward to collecting all of them.” Creating the custom annual keepsake gives the visitors something to remember year-after-year but helps the organization to fundraise for future ornaments and festivities.

The organization allows the visitors to purchase their ornaments throughout the year online.

Celebrating the County

Celebrating the county is an essential piece of the organization, and it has a lot to celebrate. Ginger stated, “We have the longest and shortest covered bridges open to traffic in the US. Smolen Gulf bridge is the longest at 613 feet long, and Liberty St. is 18 feet long. Our oldest bridges were built in the 1860s, and the newest was built in 2016.” The amount of history in the number of bridges the county has, nineteen to be exact, is essential for the county but for tourists as well. They are able to truly celebrate the history with their festival and organization as a whole.

The future of the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival is to continue to fundraise and put money into covered bridge projects and to keep the festival alive and well. Another essential piece is to inspire the love of the bridges around the county while inspiring young people to continue the organization’s mission. That’s essential especially for the history of the bridges. If you’re interested in attending their Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, it is held annually during the 2nd weekend of October, which will be October 8th and 9th of 2022, for more information click here.

To learn more about creating your own custom keepsake program for fundraising, click here.