MANSFIELD, Ind. (WTHI) - Despite the huge number of visitors, the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival enjoys a reputation as being a place that doesn't see a lot of crime or other problems. Local police certainly play a large role in that fact. But some property owners want to keep that reputation intact and are bringing in private security to help local police keep trouble at bay.
Finding those unique items or deals you won't find anywhere else. That's part of what draws people to Parke County every October. And the food's pretty good, from what we hear, too. Jenny Hoffeditz and her daughter came from Linton, Indiana to check out the deals in Mansfield.
"Every year, I’ve brought her every year since she was a baby,” Jenny told us. “I used to pull her in a wagon up that hill over there. Now she can walk and drag me to the stops that she wants to go to (laughs)."
Two million people come to this ten day festival, and yet you hear about very few problems here at the Covered Bridge Festival.
Parke County Sheriff Mike Eslinger, "We have a few thefts during the Bridge Festival, but not as many as one might think."
You'll notice strong local and state police presence at Covered Bridge. We spoke with Michael Popovic, who's a property owner in Mansfield.
"Parke County guys are great, the EMT's, everyone is fabulous," said Popovic.
But because two million people come here in such a short amount of time, local forces are stretched thin. That's why Popovic and other property owners have hired private security to supplement local police.
"I want the vendors and customers to feel at ease, like they're secure around here," said Popovic.
Agents by day help keep the peace and help the public. At night, they patrol the grounds to give vendors peace of mind that their merchandise is safe. It's done in hopes that people like Jenny and her daughter don't have to think about security. They're only thinking about… what to get next.
"I know it's a lot of people, but I think people just move,” said Jenny. “People just keep moving."
You still have about a week to catch the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, which concludes this coming Sunday.
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