WILLIAMS — The rain fell outside, but inside the Williams Covered Bridge last September, diners stayed dry, enjoying their time among their fellow community members.

It was the first-ever dinner on the Williams Covered Bridge, and with nearly 300 people in attendance, organizers deemed it a rousing success, despite the weather. So successful in fact, Lawrence County Tourism is teaming up with the Williams community to do it again this year.

“To have walked through the middle of that bridge, the way the weather was outside, and yet see all those people inside and having a good time, it was overwhelming,” said Lawrence County Tourism executive director Tonya Chastain. “It reminded me of an old-fashioned ice cream social, where the community would come together to just be together and enjoy the fellowship. That’s what we had there. It was a community event, and they all wanted to be a part of it.”

This year’s dinner is set for Sept. 14. Participants arrive at 4 p.m. with the dinner scheduled for 5 p.m. Williams resident Mark Spreen is catering the event, which also will include entertainment. As was the case last year, ticket holders will park near the dam and be shuttled to the covered bridge.

“Last year, as soon as we opened the office Monday, we started receiving calls asking us if we were going to do it again,” Chastain said. “We expect tickets to sell out even faster than they did last year.”

Chastain said the commission has been blessed to be able to work alongside volunteers from the Williams community.

“The Williams community has been great to work with,” Chastain said. “They’re so proud of the bridge and the dam. ... They love to work with us, so they have a chance to show it off.

“The covered bridge is a big part of tourism in Lawrence County. It’s a destination for so many people, so we want to continue to put the spotlight on it in an effort to preserve it for generations.”

Tickets are now on sale for $25 each. To make reservations, call 812-849-1090. T-shirts commemorating the dinner also are available at the visitors center at a cost of $10 each. Chastain said you don’t have to go to the dinner to purchase a T-shirt.

“They make great gifts,” she added.

The Williams Covered Bridge is one of 98 historic covered bridges in Indiana, and it boasts the second-longest structure, spanning 373 feet across the White River in Williams. The covered bridge is as much of an identifying factor to the small community of Williams as its former hydroelectric dam, although neither are utilized for their intended purposes these days.

The bridge was built in 1884. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Up until 2010, the bridge was still open to traffic traversing the White River near Williams. It was closed to traffic when the county built a new bridge nearby. After it was closed to traffic, it underwent approximately $500,000 in renovations to preserve it.

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