Rich Mills and Mayumi Ameku of rural Winterset will serve as King and Queen for the 50th Madison County Covered Bridge Festival celebration.
Rich was born and raised in Winterset and graduated from Winterset High School in 1971. Rich is the fourth generation in his family to live in Madison County.
Mayumi emigrated from Okinawa, Japan, in 1973 with her mother and step father when she was 10 years old.
Rich and Mayumi live on 50 acres with their boxer-terrier dog, Bella, very close to Hogback Covered Bridge. In 2011, they launched the Hogback Bridge Dreamer’s Journal, which is a notebook at the bridge that visitors may use to record stories from their travels to Madison County.
The first Dream Journal began with a love poem from Mills to Ameku, who was away when he wrote it. A total of 47 completed journals have been collected, with about 300 messages per journal. In the journals, visitors leave messages as varied as they are, but many celebrate romance or mourn lost love. The journals were Ameku’s idea, sparked by a story she once heard about something similar kept near a lake.
Rich and Mayumi also share a love of cycling. Together with the Madison County Cycle Club, they recycle bicycles and find bikes for children in need. Staying active on a bicycle and daily walks have helped Rich and Mayumi recover from illness this past year.
Rich has ridden in more than 30 RAGBRAIs since 1976, and in 2012 rode his bike across the country to raise awareness and funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Iowa Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, while gathering signatures for a stem cell petition.
Rich and Mayumi volunteer at the Iowa State Fair in the Madison County booth and encourage people to visit Madison County. They are wonderful ambassadors of our community, and the Covered Bridge Festival is proud to honor them as King and Queen in 2019.