In short — it was a spectacular weekend.
Great weather, tremendous entertainment, incredible food, the 48th edition of the Swiss Wine Festival lived up to it’s billing as one of the best festivals in the state last weekend; and with rising attendance figures, it looks like the festival will be even bigger and better in coming years.
“Compared to last year, our attendance was up,” Festival President Joe Parham said. “Saturday was better than Friday, and Friday was up over last year’s Friday. We go by number of ticket sales, then average the bracelets and the vendors and the campers. Overall we were pretty happy.”
Parham said that the board didn’t feel that the rain on Thursday night hurt opening night attendance, noting that Thursday is a little harder to judge because it’s a free night for festival goers, so there are no tickets to account for.
“Going by sales of stuff was sold down here, and going by talking with the food vendors and others, everybody did really well all of the days and they were up from last year.”
Parham said that the board’s back up plan for Thursday night was to move the princess pageants to the school, but the rain cleared enough that the events could go on with just a bit of a time delay.
The entertainment events were also well attended — including Sunday, where the festival is hoping to create a pattern with its Sunday “Bluegrass Bonanza”.
“When we talked with the food vendors, they said that it had been the best Sunday yet,” he said. “So we’re glad that they were happy.”
Parham said that leading the event as President is not a one man act.
“I know that I’ve got some really big shoes to fill, and last year I scooted by (referring to the passing last year of longtime President Kirk Works),” Parham said. “The whole board stepped up. We’ve got a good board of people, I think. Everybody’s open minded and they listen to suggestions.”
Parham said that the overall attendance estimate for the four days was right at 28,000, which was up slightly overall from 2018.
“We’re trying to be creative as we move ahead,” Parham said. “To me, if we don’t try and keep this all changed up like Kirk always did, then we won’t keep growing. If you don’t do things differently, then people are going to stop coming.”
And the board is always listening to those in attendance — good and bad.
“We hope that everyone enjoys it,” he said. “We heard some complaints, but it isn’t something that can’t be taken care of. All of us make notes of everything. We do this for the community. I thought things were good. We’re going to keep plugging along. We’re already working on next year.”