Friday, May 13, 2011


Again... this question comes back. How do you count attendance at a covered bridge festival? Well... the way I do is I spend about an our at each bridges, extrapolate the numbers over an 8 hour-long period and try my best to take in account distances and proximity to other bridges or local landmarks of importance.

As I did in Ashtabula in 1997, 16 covered bridges visited, 1-hour each over the two days of the festival... plus travel time, minus distance from other bridges, some are more popular than others but all in all... it gave us a figure of about 235,000 entering the county over a 2 day period... far more accurate that gate-receips at the fairground which tells little if nothing at all of the popularity of the covered bridges themselves.

Numbers can be way more accurate if one person can sit at every single structure for a day and count cars and people like I also did in Quebec in the 1980s. Those numbers also thought me that even the most remote covered bridges is still worth about $50,000 in tourism revenues for the local economies... anywhere in the Americas. The remote bridges attract a different crowd who travel longer, farther and deeper into the land... I was shocked to see how many folk came to see the 61-38-11, Pont couvert de l'Aigle in northern Gatineau Quebec, there was a constant flow of cars and plates from Vermont, Ontario, Manitoba to Arkansas... something I wasn't seeing at the other bridges.

So you wanna know how many folks go see your bridges???

Put Aunt Betsy at one, cousin Bill and Trixie at an other, make sure Mikey is connected to his playstation at a third, ask politely to cousin Chuck to monitor a fouth, and ask Irene and Gerald to do the fifth... now if the rest of the county does the same, you will cover all you bridges!

All you do is write the car...

Black Chevy - Vermont plates, with 4 adults, stayed 12 minute took pictures


Simple, easy, and make sure every one gets their lunches and their drinks!

the numbers you will get will blow your mind.

Now doing this in Germany was a bit more tricky because the plates look very similar, but once I got told about the way they can be told apart, I was also blown away to see what the traffic of visitors was at Hohenfichte, about 80 Km west of Dresden, Saxony... people came from France, the UK and from all over Germany. Located near a train station and first erected in 1616... the bridges survived the Napoleonic Wars, WW1 and 2 and 60 years of communism. The crowd was relentless and the local plates were a minority.

From that, to the visit of the Hennersdorf and Zwickau covered bridges, I was able to establish that these structures were extremely popular with tourists who, once they had arrived in Dresden and seen the magnificent rococo covered bridge between the palace and the cathedral, needed very little convincing to be brought out to the Saxon country side to the other bridges.

I could see the faces of little kids in those cars... totally amazed the car was being driven into some kind of house ... then once across, they park the car and come out for a walk! Just like me when I was a little kid travelling with dad in northern Quebec. Covered bridges will do that to ya... they are impressive in a very familiar way. We all associate with houses somehow, so as a little kid, driving through one is kinda weird... no matter what culture you grew up in!

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