40th Swiss Wine Festival starts tonight with new events, old favorites

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The 40th Swiss Wine Festival kicks off tonight (Thursday), and the organizing committee and volunteers have put together a four-day event that promises to be one of the best yet.

This year’s theme is “The Grape Escape”; and everything gets started tonight (Thursday) with the traditional Little Swiss Polka Dancers and Edelweiss Dancers performing at the Main Stage at 6 p.m. That will be followed by a new event – a “Mini Parade” that will feature smaller entries, such as four-wheelers and golf carts, making their way through the festival grounds to the Main Stage.

Capping off tonight will be the Edelweiss Teen Princess pageant, which will take place at the Main Stage beginning at 8 p.m.

Tonight will also be a bracelet night, with unlimited rides available for $18.

Another new event comes to the Swiss Wine Festival tomorrow (Friday), as teams of five will be participating in challenges as part of the “Great Grape Decathlon”. That will kick off at 7 p.m.

The country music duo “Aly’An” will be performing tomorrow night beginning at 8:30 p.m. and features singers Alyson Burke and Andrea Warner. At 9 p.m. the Beer Garden will be filled with the party music of “Lunar Beach House”; and “Pop Noggins” will give everyone the chance to make their own music video.

This Saturday, kicks off with the annual 5K River Walk/Run, which will start in the Riverfront Park at 8 a.m. and will take participants through the streets of Vevay.

The Grand Festival Parade will move through town beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning; and at 11:30 a.m. those heading down into the festival grounds will be treated to “The Soundz of Dixieland” band.

For those hearing the “call of the road”, the Poker Run will be held on Saturday, with registration beginning at 11 a.m. at Mo’s Steakhouse.

The annual 3-on-3 Basketball Jamboree begins its two-day run on Saturday beginning at 12:30 p.m.; and at 1:45 p.m. the Swiss Ambassador program will be held at the Main Stage. The Swiss Ambassador competition is a scholarship program featuring a senior boy and senior girl from several surrounding high schools.

Switzerland County’s representatives for the Swiss Ambassador program are Samantha Helt and Quinn Meyer.

Other Saturday events include a Balloon Magic Show at 2 p.m.; the “Polka Motion” mix of polka and rock at 3 p.m.; and “DeeZel” will be performing country and rock at 4:30 p.m. in the Beer Garden.

The Little Swiss Polka Dancers and the Edelweiss Dancers return to the Main Stage on Saturday at 5 p.m., And all of those who want to prove their strength can participate in the Steintossen competition at 5 p.m.

The theme of the festival will turn patriotic on Saturday evening when “Ladies for Liberty” bring their performance to the Main Stage.

Comedian Rik Roberts performs at 7 p.m.; and the featured Saturday night performance ramps up with the popular “Rick K and the All Nighters” returning to the Swiss Wine Festival. The group’s performance will begin at 8 p.m.

Also around the festival grounds on Saturday night, “Faze-3” will perform Southern Rock beginning at 9 p.m. in the Beer Garden; and more music videos can be created with “Pop Noggins” beginning at 9:15 p.m.

Saturday comes to a grand climax at 10:10 p.m., when the Fireworks Show presented by Belterra Casino Resort and Spa is shot off over the Ohio River.

Sunday, August 28th is the final day of the festival – but that doesn’t mean that the festival will go quietly.

Once again there will be a bracelet day for the amusement rides for $18; and the community church service will be held at the Main Stage beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Kristen Hobbs will perform a mixture of country and contemporary Christian music at the Main Stage beginning at noon; and at 12:30 p.m. people will be able to participate in the “Trivia Blitz” game show.

The Little Swiss Polka Dancers and Edelweiss Dancers will deliver their final performance on Sunday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.; and “Saffire Express” will perform at 2 p.m. Another Steintossen competition will be held at 3 p.m.

The festival wraps up in a big way; as the Junior High School cheerleader competition will be held at 3:30 p.m.; and the High School cheerleader competition will be held at 4:30 p.m.

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In addition to the daily line up, there are also some ongoing events throughout the festival.

“Pets Overboard” is a fun-filled show that features a cast of dogs, cats, and rats that will keep everyone entertained with their adventures on their pirate ship as they search for lost treasure.

Audience participation is a big part of the show; which will be held on Thursday at 6:45 p.m.; on Friday at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m.; and on Saturday at 1 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9:30 p.m.

A variety of exotic animals come to the festival this year as part of “The Amazing Rainforest”.

Trained exotic animals, including tigers, cougars, monkeys, parrots, and others will all be able to be viewed up close.

“The Amazing Rainforest” show will be held on Friday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.; on Saturday at 12:15 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.; and on Sunday at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:45 p.m.

The Travel’n Riverboat Show has become a festival favorite; and the duo and their riverboat will be cruising around the festival grounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Look for them at a variety of stops along the food area and the arts and crafts area.

It wouldn’t be a Swiss Wine Festival without stomping some grapes; and the “Midwest Championship Grape Stomp” will be held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Friday round will be held at 7:30 p.m.; the Saturday stomp will be held at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with a special kids grape stomp being held at 3:30 p.m. Finally, Sunday’s grape stomp will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.; with the Grand Finale stomp being held at 4 p.m.

Another festival tradition are the riverboat cruises up and down the Ohio River; and on Friday there will be a sightseeing cruise at 4 p.m.; a dinner cruise at 6:45 p.m.; and a moonlight cruise at 9:30 p.m.

On Saturday there will be sightseeing cruises at noon and 4:30 p.m.; a tour of the Markland Dam and Locks at 1:30 p.m.; a dinner cruise at 6:30 p.m.; and a fireworks cruise at 9:30 p.m. Finally, on Sunday there will be sightseeing cruises at noon and again at 2 p.m.; and another tour of the Markland Dam and Locks at 3:30 p.m.

For advance reservations for the riverboat cruises, call the Swiss Wine Festival office at 427-9463.

There will be more than 100 varieties of Indiana wines on display and available for tasting at the Swiss Wine Festival’s Wine Tasting Pavilion.

The pavilion will be open on Friday beginning at 3 p.m.; on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.; and on Sunday beginning at noon.

Participating Indiana wineries this year include: Buck Creek Winery; Carousel Winery; Chateau De Pique Winery; Simmon’s Winery; Ertel Cellars Winery; French Lick Winery; Indian Creek Winery; Lanthier Winery; Powers Winery; The Ridge Winery; Windy Knoll Winery; and Winzerwald Winery.

The Beer Garden will be open during the festival; and will feature live music on Friday and Saturday.

Combine all of these activities with more than 25 food booths and more than 125 arts and crafts booths; and the 40th Swiss Wine Festival promises to be one that no one will soon forget.

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Be sure and watch for Vevay Newspapers’ annual Swiss Wine Festival Special Section, which will be included in next week’s edition.