The Garland dairy farm on Garland Road will be part of the Rural Heritage Tour during the Switzerland County Bicentennial celebration this weekend. Visitors will be able sample cheese, tour the milking facilities and see an old scissor-truss barn. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/
The Garland dairy farm on Garland Road will be part of the Rural Heritage Tour during the Switzerland County Bicentennial celebration this weekend. Visitors will be able sample cheese, tour the milking facilities and see an old scissor-truss barn. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/
Early settlers came to the Ohio River Valley area now known as Switzerland County 200 years ago in search of the right location and land to plant vineyards that rivaled those in their homeland.

Now, ancestors of those early settlers and other local residents will celebrate the agricultural history that allowed the area to prosper.

Bicentennial committee members Martha Bladen and Donna Weaver said Vevay celebrates its Bicentennial during 2013, while the county marks its 200th birthday next year - yet the community decided to celebrate the events together with a year-long party.

The area first became a settlement after John James Dufour Jr. and his family petitioned Congress for property along the Ohio River in the 1802 with the intent to begin vineyards in the United States.

Because the area had enough similarities to their native country, the Dufours felt that the area would be a successful location for wine production, Bladen said.

"They felt it would be compatible," she said. "This was the right setting."

By 1813, the Dufours had platted and established the town of Vevay in the Indiana territory.

"They laid out the town," Weaver said.

A year later, Switzerland County became recognized as a county in the territory. Indiana was granted statehood in 1816.

Over the years, more immigrants moved to the area because of the successful agricultural conditions and trade on the Ohio River. Homes that featured French- and Swiss-inspired designs were built during the prosperous times and still stand today, as do several business buildings that line the main streets of Vevay.

As the area celebrates its 200th birthday, Bicentennial organizers have taken a look at old records to provide a deeper understanding of the area's beginnings. As part of the Bicentennial celebration, researchers created history boards for several of the downtown buildings in Vevay to show previous owners and businesses located in the buildings over the years, Bladen said.

"This has been a way to learn about the community," Weaver said.

In addition to celebrating the present, the Bicentennial birthday also serves as a way to connect with the past.

"We're becoming more connected with our area," Bladen said.

Several festivities have already taken place in connection with the 200-year celebration - like the year-long First Friday themes - but area residents plan to continue the area's bicentennial birthday with several events throughout the next two weeks to highlight the area's past and present.

"There's something for everybody," Weaver said. "There's a lot of little things going on to make the whole."

Some of the upcoming Vevay-Switzerland County Bicentennial events include:

Patchwork of History - Oct. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m., Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 6 from noon to 5 p.m. - Switzerland County Technology & Education Center, 708 W. Seminary St.

The event will feature quilts spanning over 100 years and highlight old-fashioned creations like double wedding-ring quilts to more contemporary designs of today.

Art Tour - Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Maps located at the tourism office, library and museum

The self-guided tour will feature 30 paintings by William McKendree Snyder at the Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home, as well as other paintings, prints and other sculptures on display at various locations throughout downtown Vevay.

Chautauqua - Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. - Switzerland County Historical Society, 208 E. Market St.

An old-fashioned Chautauqua featuring a William Jennings Bryan reenactor will take visitors back to the early 1900s where week-long tent Chautauquas included speakers on social and political issues, as well as a variety of entertainment.

Bryan, a popular Chautauqua speaker of the time, spoke in Vevay in 1917. The portrayal of a local suffragette, as well as music, dance and other entertainment will be highlighted during the event. Visitors are encouraged to dress in period clothing for the event and stay for a tea after the performance.

Antique Tractor Show - Oct. 5 and 6 - Paul Ogle Park

An antique tractor show will be on display throughout the weekend.

A Cast Iron cooking contest where teams of three cook over an open fire or charcoal grill will also be featured Saturday. Cooking begins at noon with judging at 4 p.m.

"Life Below the Water Line," An exhibit highlighting aquatic life in the Ohio River, also will be on display from Friday through Sunday at the park.

Edelweiss Singers and Character Drama of Switzerland County's Past - Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. - Hoosier Theatre, 209 Ferry St.

Performances by the Edelweiss Singers and the fourth grade class will highlight their interpretations of people from Vevay's past. The Dumont Club and Eggleston Club will also host presentations during the event.

Rural Heritage Tour - Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 13 from noon to 5 p.m. - Musee de Venoge, Thiebaud Farmstead, Garland Farm

Free tours will bring history to life at the Musee de Venoge and Thiebaud Farmstead as reenactors demonstrate a military encampment, period trades, hearth cooking and period music.

A third tour of a modern farm at the Garland Dairy Farm will be part of the events this year. The Garlands use milk from their Jersey cows to produce Brick House Cheese.

A traditional ox roast - which costs $11 per person - also will be held during the tour with the main course at the Musee de Venoge and a dessert course at the Thiebaud Farmstead.

Scavenger Hunt and Geo-cache Race Contest - Oct. 12, beginning at 10 a.m. - Switzerland County YMCA, 735 State Road 56

The "200 Years, 200 Deers" contest begins with registration and instructions at 10 a.m. with the contest at 11 a.m. Clues will be given to find the deer hidden at sites in Vevay and other areas of Switzerland County.

Teams must be made up of four people, and teams will need a digital camera or phone that takes pictures, closed-toe shoes and a pen or pencil.

Community Birthday Celebration - Oct. 13 - Paul Ogle Park

The Community Birthday Celebration will end two-weeks' worth of events near the river. The celebration of the past, present and future begins with a community worship service before a day of music, food - including birthday cake - games and other activities.

More information about the Vevay-Switzerland County Bicentennial and an event schedule is available online at