Security Heightened for Madison County's Covered Bridge Festival

WINTERSET, Iowa -- Extra security is in place for Madison County's Covered Bridge Festival this weekend.

In two of the past three years, arsonists have set fire to two of the county's six bridges, made famous in the film "The Bridges of Madison County." No arrests have been made.

The Cedar Bridge, which was destroyed in 2002, but was rebuilt and unveiled at last year's festival. The Hogback Bridge, which was minimally damaged by fire in 2003, was refurbished by a group of volunteers earlier this year.

"We have put things in place that would make it very hard to damage the bridges this weekend," said Brenda Hollingsworth, a member of the Madison County Bridge Preservation Association.

Madison County Sheriff Paul Welch would not provide details about the security steps that have been taken, but he did say that "county people and members of the community have their eyes open wide and will be making special trips to monitor the bridges this weekend."

All six bridges in Madison County were also outfitted earlier this year with wireless surveillance cameras that operate around the clock to deter vandals.

The festival, which runs through Sunday, is expected to attract 25,000 people.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,

(c) 2005 Associated Press