ELYSBURG - The 31st annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival at Knoebels opens today, and park officials hope that adding a fourth day this year will ease congestion at the typically crowded event.

Last year on Saturday - the busiest day of the festival - Knoebels ran out of parking spaces, Brian Knoebel said Wednesday, while he and other employees prepared for the event.

"With the rain in late August and September, between (Hurricane) Irene and (Tropical Storm) Lee, people were so anxious to get out of the house," Knoebel said of last year's festival. "The weather was perfect and that was the reason we were so busy."

Coordinated by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, the festival is expected to attract more than 350 craft vendors and 25 food vendors. An additional pavilion for vendors was added this year, Knoebel said.

The event will feature covered bridge tours throughout the weekend and an antique car show on Sunday. In addition, The Sky Way, Ferris Wheel, Pioneer Train and Merry-Go-Round will be open during the week with most of the remaining rides opening Saturday and Sunday. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


"The Phoenix Phall Phunfest" will also take place from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Guests can enjoy The Haunted Antique Cars and take a trip on the Pioneer Train, dubbed the "Halloween Express."

Knoebel described the Halloween Express as child-friendly, while the Antique Cars is more "blood and guts."

A costume parade will be held at 8 p.m. with prizes for best costume, individual or couple, and group.

Several spooky scenes will be found throughout the park, including a pirate ship on Roaring Creek and a skeleton riding on a Flyer car. Three-hundred bales of straw and 11 pick-up trucks of pumpkins and cornstalks were placed throughout the park.

For more information, go to www.knoebels.com