Combine Switzerland County’s heritage of winemaking and the love of a good harvest festival and you get the Swiss Wine Festival that’s celebrating its 50th today through Sunday in Vevay.
The wine festival’s 50 years aren’t consecutive — the event began in 1968 and ended after six years before re-starting in 1979 — and the venue has moved from Main Street in the center of town to the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park several years ago.
Either place there is plenty to do and see and taste.
The four-day event, much longer than most festivals in the area, typically begins with pageants on Thursday. This year the Edelweiss Princess contest for girls age 17 to 22 was held on Aug. 7. Festival coordinator Suzanne Rayls noted that it was moved up in hope of drawing more entries the the festival starts near the beginning of the school year and many girls are preparing for college. This year’s Edelweiss Princess pageant had nine entries with Annabelle Bear winning the title.
Still, there are other pageants that will take place today beginning at 7 p.m. — the Little Miss Swiss program and the Edelweiss Teen Princess pageant.
Several Swiss Wine Festival traditions remain a vital part of the weekend. Little Swiss Polka Dancers will be performing throughout the festival including Thursday at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at noon. The Grape Stomp competition will be Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Country music artist Chris Cagle will headline Friday’s music entertainment at 9 p.m. Prior to that, the Highwaymen, a tribute band of quartet of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, will perform at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Thunderstruck, an AC/DC tribute band, plays from 8-10 p.m. Before that, the Classic Rock Experience takes the stage from 5-6:30 p.m.
There will be more music in the beer garden nightly from 10:15 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. — Bare Naked Karate Girls will perform on Friday and Nite Owl and Take Off of Wedding Crash Kings on Saturday.
Returning for a second year is the Swiss Wine Super Show professional wrestling on Thursday from 7-9 p.m.
Other entertainment in different parts of the festival venue include a Dinosaur Adventures Museum, a BMX Pro Bike Trick Team and the Street Drum Corps, all performing on the midway. Beer and Jessop Amusements is providing the carnivals rides this year.
In the past the craft beer area and the beer garden have been in separate tents, but this year they are being combined into one. Also, the wine pavalion is returning with representatives from several area wineries.
Weekend passes to the festival for use Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $18. A single day admission ticket is $10.
The 5K River Walk/Run will be Saturday at 8 a.m. starting and finishing at the Old Ferry Landing at the south end of Ferry Street in the park. Sign-in packets may picked up afte 6:30 a.m. Late registrations will be accepted until 7:30 a.m.
The Grand Festival Parade will be Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Vevay.
Old Settlers’ Meeting
Jefferson County’s annual Old Settlers’ Meeting at Neavill’s Grove is back this weekend and once again a two-day event.
For more than 35 years, it was a three-day event but last year due to COVID-19 and financial reasons, it was limited to a one-day Saturday run. This year, there’s entertainment back on Friday night, and a full day of activities on Saturday.
“Ours is a little festival but it’s a community thing. The people are friendly and it’s an enjoyable day,” said Ginger Sexton, a longtime member of the board of directors for the Neavill’s Grove Association.
Neavill’s Grove is a park located seven miles northwest of Madison at 6576 Deputy Pike. The first Old Settlers’ Meeting was held on the last Saturday of August in 1885 as a gathering of old friends. The meeting has continued on as a community event, still on the last Saturday in August, now for 137 years.
Neavill’s Grove is part of the old George Neavill Sr. 160-farm in Smyrna Township. In 1916, Edward Neavill, grandson of George Neavill Sr., donated and deeded 12 acres of land to the Neavill’s Grove Incorporated to be maintained as a community picnic and recreation grounds and preserved for its historic background and beauty. In 1924, Edward Neavill donated and deeded an additional eight acres to the association.
Friday’s program features the Bee Camp Bottom Boys from 6-8 p.m. with food available beginning at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, the official opening is at 11:30 a.m. with the national anthem and flag raising ceremony led by the Sons of the American Revolution. There is a tractor parade at noon with antique tractors on display all day. The 25th annual bake-off contest will be at 1:30 p.m. with categories in cakes, pies and cookies. Games and contests for the kids start at 2 p.m. with a cornhole toss, water relay, water balloon toss, parent calling and bubble gum.
A homemade ham and bean supper starts at 4 p.m. Country Kickers line dancers will perform from 5-6 p.m. The event ends with the Dusty Roads Band playing from 6-8 p.m.