FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — West Virginia’s largest one-day festival, Bridge Day, is Saturday, October 20.
The third Saturday in October tradition at the New River Gorge Bridge will be it’s 39th installment and remains free to the public.
“We like keeping the event free because it’s always been that way and it’s part of the uniqueness of the bridge day festival,” Sharon Cruikshank, Bridge Day chairwoman said. “Unlike a lot of other ones, we don’t charge to come in. People can bring their whole families and they do.”
Cruikshank says every year is a reunion of sorts as base jumpers, tourists and local residents always come back to the Fayette County event. It is also the final homecoming for Fayetteville High School as the school will shut down at the end of the school year so she adds there could be plenty of alumni in town.
The New River Gorge Bridge opened in 1977 but Bridge Day did not start until 1979.
“Every year is a reunion,” Cruikshank said. “I know people that have walked the bridge since it went open in 1977 and they’ve been coming every year.”
While many tourists will walk the bridge, hundreds of jumpers will take flight.
Bridge Day is expecting around 360 jumpers including tandem jumpers, staff, and all other registered jumpers. Jumping will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there will be a group jumping with the American flag at some point between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Cruikshank noted there will also be a new kind of jump.
“Not only will we have the scissor lift and the catapult but we will have a swing,” she said. “All of these options will be open to the more experienced jumpers but it should give people a little more of a show.”
Around 175 vendors are expected at Bridge Day with something for everyone. There will be turkey legs, barbecue, kabobs, fajitas, fried Oreos, funnel cakes, and much more on the food side while the festival will also have Tamarack artisans, WVU pharmacy and dentistry schools with free products and Vault Boy from the video game Fallout 76, that is based in West Virginia and coming out next month.
There will be parking symbols will be located on Route 19 for visitors that want to shuttle into the event.
The shuttle has six stops that will cost $3. The stops include Fayette Landing Shopping Center, Fayetteville Walmart, Fayetteville Courthouse, Fayetteville High School, Smales Branch Road’s Lighthouse Worship Center, and Midland Trail High School.
Handicapped buses will be at Midland Trail High School and at Fayette Landing Shopping Center.
The New River Gorge Bride will be shut down during the event and there will be detours for traffic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Last year’s Bridge Day hosted close to 100,000 people as Cruikshank expects upwards of that number, with a portion of the attendance numbers depending on the weather.
“We’ve all been blessed with this wet season all summer so all of our fall colors are a little bit late in changing,” Cruikshank but it looks to be a colorful rest of October and the first part of November.”
For a full schedule of events and shuttle schedule, visit officialbridgeday.com.