It’s finally here: Festival starts today

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The 2005 Swiss Wine Festival begins today (Thursday) along the Ohio River at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park. There are all types of activities taking place during the four-day festival, and here’s a look at some of the events that you’ll want to take in.

— Tonight (Thursday) is a local night, with free parking for all visitors. The “4-Paws” doggie pageant sponsored by the Swiss Friends of Animals gets things started at 6 p.m.; followed by the Community Grape Stomp at 6:30 p.m.

The Little Swiss Polka Dancers and the Edelweiss Dancers will be at the Main Stage at 6:45 p.m.; and the evening is highlighted by the Edelweiss Teen Princess pageant, which is set for 8 p.m. at the Main Stage.

— Tomorrow (Friday) will see all types of entertainment at the festival, including individuals and groups that will be strolling around the festival grounds rather than being contained on a stage.

The 3-kilometer river run for children is at 6:30 p.m.; and headlining the Main Stage entertainment will be the “Endless Summer Band”, which gets started at 7:30 p.m. At 10 p.m. there will be a laser light at the ball fields; and don’t miss the balloon glow, a new feature at the festival.

— Saturday is a big day at the festival, and things kick off at 8 a.m. with the 5-kilometer River Run/Walk which starts and ends at the river. The Grand Festival Parade starts at 10 a.m.; and the 3-on-3 basketball action begins its 2-day run in the park beginning at 12:30 p.m.

There’s always great entertainment on Saturday, and from the Ohio River Minstrels strolling through the grounds to the nationally-known “Van-Dells” on the Main Stage at 8 p.m., there’s something for everyone.

Saturday will also be a great day to enjoy a riverboat cruise on the Ohio River, or for the more adventurous, take a helicopter ride on Saturday afternoon.

— Sunday caps off the festival, and will feature two cheerleading competitions this year, one for high school squads (1:30 p.m.) and one for junior high squads (3 p.m.). The Great Canoe Race will paddle off on the river beginning at noon; and the Main Stage will feature Stacy Lynn at noon at 2:30 p.m.; and the Swing Time Big Band at 4 p.m.

Throughout the weekend there will be much, much more; from grape stomping and steintossing to the wine pavilion and the beer garden. There’s plenty of music and arts and craft booths, and a special antique auction will take place on Sunday.

There’s a cruise in and a poker run for motorcycles, and special stages for young people and children.

Put it all together, and you’ll want to spend every free moment at this year’s Swiss Wine Festival.