‘Grape Balls of Fire!’ the 2021 Swiss Wine Festival is on!

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 The 2021 Swiss Wine Festival is on.

  The 49th community festival, which had to be canceled last year due to the COVID pandemic, is once again a ‘go’, as members of the board of directors met recently and approved the plan for 2021 — which will see the festival kick off on Thursday, August 26th and run through Sunday, August 29th.

  “We’re planning on having it,” Festival President Joe Parham said. “We were already planning on having it, unless it got closer to May and State Officials said, ‘you can do this, you can’t do that’. We were more afraid of the restrictions than anything.”

  Parham said that the entire board is optimistic as plans move forward that the 2021 Swiss Wine Festival will be a big success, but he noted that there is also an overall concern for the community and area businesses.

  “We understand that last year was tough on a lot of our local businesses, so it’s a little hard for us to go and out ask for donations to go to the festival,” Parham said. “With that concern for the community, some things may have to be pulled back a little bit, but we hope not. So far area businesses have been good about trying to provide funding for us.”

  The main attractions on the Big Stage for this year’s festival will feature Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry on Friday night; and the wildly popular AC/DC tribute band, ‘Thunderstruck’, will return for another concert on Saturday night. Signing big acts means committing to big fees, but with the 2019 festival seeing record numbers of attenders, and with people being anxious to get out and see friends and family after getting through the pandemic — Parham says that hopefully everything will fall in place.

  “We don’t have a whole lot of money to work with, and as I said, going out and asking people for money seems kind of hard after everything everybody’s went through this past year,” Parham said. “We’re going to tighten up on a few things and try and do a few different things to help on the income part. We’re going to pray that the weather is good — things like that. Part of me thinks there’s going to be a good turnout because everyone’s tired of sitting at home.”

  Parham said that he’s talked with Montgomery on the phone as the board cautiously approached reaching a contract-signing decision, and that Montgomery has told him that he’s booking engagements for the summer — including the Indiana State Fair — so he’s feeling good that concerts will be held as scheduled.

  “We’re allowed to raise and have money in the bank, but it’s already accounted for for the next festival,” Parham said. “We sent out letter to past sponsors and also potentially new sponsors. We’re sending letters to everyone trying to get help so we can make this as big as it’s been in the past. If the fundraising doesn’t work out, then we’ll have to cut back on some things, but from what I hear from other things — these bigger concerts and stuff — they’re selling out immediately. That tells me that we’re probably going to be alright.”

  The board made its way through the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic last year, and is moving forward with enthusiasm now that they can see their hard work beginning to take shape.

  “It does help a lot of people around here — a lot of organizations and stuff,” Parham said of the economic impact that holding the festival has. “We hope to continue that. The football team gets an amount of dollars each year for helping out, for example. That’s where all the money goes back to. It all goes back into the community, anyway.”

  Along with the booked acts on the Big Stage; Parham and the other members of the board of directors sees the excitement of the traditional events — like the Grand Festival Parade and the Midway and Beer Garden and Wine Pavilion. Two stages of entertainment will also be on display during the four day event; as well as arts and crafts booths and the famous food court featuring all sorts of selections.

  “Everyone’s so looking forward to it,” Parham said. “I just hope it all works out.”

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  The 2021 Swiss Wine Festival Board of Directors includes: President Joe Parham; Vice President Andy Truitt; Secretary Susann Abdon; Treasurer Lucinda Mangold; Festival Coordinator Suzanne Rayls; and board members Tyler Allen, Clinton Earls, Gene Crabtree, Tom Dawson, Emily Schroeder, Keith Smith and Jennifer Scudder; as well as director emeritus Mike Danner.

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  Editor’s Note: Okay, Switzerland County, now’s the time to step up and be a part of making the Swiss Wine Festival a success. Parham said that sponsorship money given now helps secure the contracts for all of those activities and events that have become such a part of the fabric of the festival. Sponsorships — which can be done by individuals, organizations, or businesses — start as low as $100.

  Want to know more about a sponsorship opportunity? Contact Emily Schroeder at (812) 599-0581 or Tyler Allen at (812) 599-4313.