2005 Swiss Wine Festival has four days of events, large crowds under sunny skies

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The 34th Swiss Wine Festival was one of the most successful in history, as huge crowds turned out from all over the area to attend many of the events that took place during the four day event that was held at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.

The festival had sunny, hot weather for most of the event; with some showers late on Friday night and again late in the day on Sunday afternoon having little effect on the crowds, as the rains came at times when events were winding down, anyway.

Everything kicked off on Thursday with the Swiss Friends of Animals again sponsoring the “4-Paws” Doggie Pageant. That was followed by the Community Grape Stomp competition, where newcomers Friendship State Bank held off defending champions MainSource Bank.

Mo’s Steakhouse claimed the Thursday night “Run for the Rose´” for the second straight year; and the Little Swiss Polka Dancers and the Edelweiss Dancers again charmed the crowd with their traditional songs and dances.

Thursday was capped with the crowning of Ashley Bright as this year’s Edelweiss Teen Princess, and everyone headed out of the park ready for a big weekend of events.

Friday started with some daunting weather, but a big crowd still took in the 3-K run for the youngsters; got a view of the hot air balloons on the ball field; and enjoyed all of the tastes of the different selections around the food area.

On the Main Stage, there was plenty of entertainment; and other performers on the Ogle Stage near the boat ramp provided entertainment for younger festival goers.

One of the big highlights throughout the weekend were the “high action bike” riders who performed tricks and stunts on ramps to the amazement of the large crowds that gathered. Putting on several performances throughout the festival, word seemed to spread about the bike riders, as each time the crowds got bigger and bigger.

Saturday dawned with some cloud cover bringing down the temperatures early in the morning, which was good for the participants in the 5-K Run/Walk that took athletes up from the riverfront and around the town of Vevay before bringing them back to the river.

The cloud cover didn’t last long, however, as bright sunshine and warm temperatures met both participants in the Grand Festival Parade and those watching along the parade route. This year’s parade featured several high school bands; and was led by a group of survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also honored during the parade were veterans of the Vietnam War on the 30th anniversary of the end of that war.

Other floats and bands and entries were a big hit for those watching the parade, from the pirate ship constructed by the office holders and employees at the Switzerland County courthouse to floats with the Prince and Princess and Teen Princess courts on board.

Dr. Robert Findley and Edsel Detraz were again a big hit, attired as Daisy Duke while the “Flukes of Hazzard” car rolled along with Uncle Jesse in tow.

Following the parade was a day filled with both traditional and new events. Grape stomps and steintossen and Little Swiss Polka Dancers were enjoyed side by side with all types of strolling entertainers, bands on the Main Stage; and a tremendous performance by the South Dearborn High School swing choir.

Visitors enjoyed trying wines from different Indiana wineries in the wine pavilion; and the evening was capped off with a laser light show and a fantastic fireworks display over the Ohio River. Saturday night also brought the traditional gathering of old friends in the beer garden; and many class reunions were also held in conjunction with the festival.

Sunday began with the community church service at the amphitheater, and the Great Canoe Race that began at noon saw a record number of entries, including 13 canoes in the open class race.

Sunday afternoon saw the Switzerland County varsity cheerleaders defend their title in the high school cheerleader competition; and later the junior high cheerleading squad won the first ever competition at that age level, only to have the title stripped moments after the awarding of the trophy.

Adults from other schools argued that the Switzerland County squad had too many members, but coach Janie Konkle said that the larger number was cleared with festival officials months prior to the event because she wasn’t going to exclude some of the members of the team; but after some consultation by members of the festival committee, South Ripley was declared the champion and the trophy was taken back and presented to the Raiders.

As Sunday afternoon drew to a close, so did the festival’s four days of events. Heavy rains late in the day forced the cancellation of some of the later entertainment; and vendors scrambled to get their merchandise under cover.

Overall the 2005 edition of the Swiss Wine Festival was a big success, and organizers are already making plans for the 2006 festival.