ELYSBURG - The chairperson of this year's 32nd annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival is anticipating a large crowd at this year's event, which starts today.

Megan Hummel said a combination of more vendors and the expected nice weather this weekend will possibly lead to one of the largest crowds roaming the pavilions at Knoebels Amusement Resort.

Over the four-day period last year, an estimated 65,000 people attended, she said.

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. today through Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday. Forty food vendors and approximately 350 craft vendors will be offering handmade and traditional crafts, turned and carved wood, glass, prints, sewn and woven textiles, jewelry, photography, paintings, decor for every holiday, new and re-purposed primitives and much more.

"We have vendors from as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine," Hummel said.

Presented by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, the group is letting visitors plan their day by providing an interactive vendor map on its website, www.itourcolumbiamontour.com.

Today and Friday, a special agri-tourism fair will be held at the festival near Pavilion O. Visitors can shop for locally grown produce, pumpkins, gourds and mums and decorative corn, while the kids can see domesticated animals, such as camels, red deer and alpacas.

Another special event will be the annual auction. Festival crafters have donated 350 items, which will be sold to the highest bidder. The auction begins at noon Saturday at Pavilion H, and proceeds will benefit the visitors bureau.

Chances will also be sold for a queen-size (95" x 95") quilt made by Fabrics Galore, Bloomsburg. Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5.

Rides open

Today and Friday, the park will operate its signature rides, the Grand Carousel, Pioneer Train, Giant Wheel and Scenic Skyride.

On Saturday and Sunday, many of the remaining rides and stands will open. The Phoenix Phall Phunfest, a separate event, will be held Saturday from 5 to 10:30 p.m.

Flying Turns

One ride Knoebels would not confirm would be open this weekend is the Flying Turns, which has been under construction for 7 1/2 years. The ride, billed by Knoebels as the only one of its kind in the world, travels freely through a wooden trough instead of riding on a track.

A spokesman for Knoebels said Wednesday, "It is a work in progress, although it is close (to being done)."