Swiss Wine Festival celebrates 50th; plans set for jam packed four days

15

  The Swiss Wine Festival has grown to be one of the top festivals in all of Indiana, and through the years the community has seen it go through growing pains and great prosperity.

  This year, the festival will be held beginning on Thursday, August 25th and run through Sunday, August 28th.

  And this isn’t just any festival — this year the Swiss Wine Festival celebrates 50 years.

  Andy Truitt is the President of this year’s festival, taking over from Joe Parham, who guided the festival through the COVID years and who still remains on the board.

  Truitt said that he and his fellow board members are very excited about the Golden Swiss Wine Festival — and hopes the community is, too.

  “With a month to go, we’re finalizing all contracts. Our card is loaded for our 50th year,” Truitt said. “It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to have non-stop action from Thursday to Sunday — with a few different twists here and there.”

  Truitt said that the festival will welcome country music star Chris Cagle on Friday night on what is called the National Stage — the large venue located in the baseball diamond in the park.

  Cagle will perform following another new act on Friday, as the tribute band “The Highwaymen” perform on the National Stage prior to Cagle’s concert. “The Highwaymen” pays tribute to the country music super group of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

  “The are well known all over the United States,” Truitt said. “We’re excited about their performance here.”

  On Saturday night on the National Stage there will also be new entertainment, as the festival has added “The Classic Rock Experience” which features the music of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Boston, Queen and more of the iconic bands of the past decades.

  “The Classic Rock Experience” will lead into the group that is now a Swiss Wine Festival tradition — as “Thunderstruck” makes a return appearance at the festival to highlight Saturday night.

  “We want to give more entertainment for the same price,” Truitt said. “Normally we just have ‘Thunderstruck’ and a small band in front of them, so we’ve added more there to put more value into the price of admission.”

   Another new experience for this year’s festival is that Dustin Huff, a musician with many local ties, will be displaying the “Huff Buck” — a record breaking deer that he bagged two years ago. Huff will display the record-breaker at the festival on Friday.

  In addition to the entertainment, Truitt said that festival goers will again see top-notch rides and both established and new food booths this year — as well as festival traditions in new locations.

  “This year we’re putting our Craft Beer area in with our regular Beer Garden,” Truitt said. “This gives everyone the opportunity to try more things without having to walk down the hill to a separate area. We look at it as a convenience. There’s no cover charge to get in and taste the craft beers, so it’s going to be an opportunity for everyone.”

  And don’t forget the entertainment that is found in the Beer Garden.

  “We have what we think will be on the most entertaining nights in the Beer Garden on Friday night in store for everyone,” Truitt continued. “After our country event on the National Stage, we’re going to have the ‘Naked Karate Girls’ performing in the Beer Garden with their stage show. If you’ve seen their stage show, they are electrifying.”

  All of the entertainment on the National Stage and in the Beer Garden has caused one change in traditional programming — the entertainment that is normally found on the Main Stage where the Opening Ceremonies and the Princess Contests and other events take place will not be there this year.

  “We’re not having any entertainment on the stage down by the River, because the problem we have is that the entertainment on the National Stage and in the Beer Garden drowns it out,” Truitt said. “So we’ve loaded up the National Stage. There won’t be any reserved seating in front — first come, first served. Get as close as you need to and sit down and relax.”

  Over in the Midway area of the festival, along with amusement rides Truitt said that this year will feature a dinosaur museum for every to explore.

  “It’s all kid-friendly, with three different dinosaur events including strolling dinosaurs,” he said. “We have Daniel Lusk, our magician who’s going to be doing two to three shows a day over in that area, so it’s going to be really special.”

  Truitt said that more acts and entertainment may soon be contracted to come to the festival.

  The Wine Pavilion will again be a popular place at the festival, featuring again wines from all around Indiana; and Saturday morning will again be highlighted by the Grand Festival Parade. Truitt said that there are big plans for this year’s parade to celebrate 50 years, and he and his fellow board members are keeping the identity of this year’s Grand Marshal a closely held secret — so you’ll have to come to the parade and find out who’s being honored this year.

  There will also be wrestling again on Thursday night in the ball diamond area, which was hugely popular last year; and Truitt said that the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament makes a return — thanks to the efforts of Codey Turner — after a hiatus of a few years.

  “We’re very excited about that,” Truitt said. “Cody’s really excited.”

  The festival committee also hopes to revive the Celebrity Grape Stomp competition this year, and festival board members will be appearing on Cincinnati television to help promote the festival — thanks to connections that Angie Priest has with Cincinnati stations.

  Of course, the traditional Grape Stomp area will be available during the festival for everyone’s enjoyment; and the Little Swiss Polka Dancers will also be performing throughout the weekend.  Putting on a festival the size of the Swiss Wine Festival becomes almost a daily job as the festival gets closer. Truitt said that he has a board filled with volunteers who are all about getting the job done regardless of how long it takes, and their work is going to make the 2022 Swiss Wine Festival a spectacular one.

*

  Truitt said that the festival will be setting up a booth in front of their office on Ferry Street (the former Vevay Town Hall) beginning on August 1st to sell advance tickets and ride tickets along with tee-shirts, which will carry a special design in honor of the 50th Swiss Wine Festival.

  Along with Truitt, the festival board includes Vice President  Troy Smith, Secretary Susann Abdon, Treasurer Peggy Riley; and board members Lucinda Mangold, Gene Crabtree, Emily Schroeder, Keith Smith, Tyler Allen, Clinton Earls, Joe Parham, and Festival Coordinator Suzanne Rayles, Truitt said that Switzerland County Tourism has played a hugely significant part in helping fund the festival’s entertainment and helping the festival financially as the four-day event fought its way out of not having a festival in 2020 and seeing greatly reduced crowds in 2021 as the country saw another wave of the COVID virus.

  “But we’re coming back strong and we’re very fortunate to have money from Tourism and also the Vevay-Switzerland County Foundation helping us out with capital projects this year that’s really going to make things better,” Truitt said. “It’s a step in the right direction towards the future.”