Swiss Wine Festival sees record crowds, Friday concert a success

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Thanks to a record turnout on Friday night for the Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw concert, the 2012 Swiss Wine Festival saw attendance rise over last year.

According to Festival President Kirk Works, more than 22,031 people attended the four-day festival. Record attendance numbers were set on Friday.

“This represents a 22.6-percent increase over the 2011 total attendance,” Kirk Works said. “An additional 4,059 people enjoyed this year’s festival as compared to last year. This year’s record attendance is 13-percent better than our pervious attendance record, which was set in 2010. We are extremely pleased with the tremendous turnout for this year’s festival during these tough economic times.”

Total festival attendance in 2011 was more than 17,972.

This year’s festival saw visitors from all over the country, with guests registering at the festival from several different states, including: California, South Carolina, Michigan, and Illinois – as well as Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Kirk Works said that since Thursday evening was free admission, the attendance was estimated to be the same as last year’s – 1,391.

But it was Friday’s concert featuring the two nationally-known country music stars that brought in the huge crowds.

Friday’s total attendance was 7,266 – compared to 3,263 last year. That represents a 123-percent increase over 2011. The festival committee estimated that over 4,000 people attended the Tippin/Kershaw concert.

Friday night’s concert was made possible with the financial support from Switzerland County Tourism Commission.

Kirk Works said that Saturday’s attendance was in line with 2011, with 10,544 enjoying the festival – compared to 10,593 last year.

The crowds continued to pack the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park on Sunday, with 2,830 people taking in the activities and events on the last day of the festival. The attendance on Sunday was up 3.9-percent over 2011.

Thursday got off to a big start, with Ethan Rose and Kyatalin Baker being crowned as the Little Mister Swiss and Little Miss Swiss; and Stephanie Smith was crowned as the 2012 Edelweiss Princess; and after the big crowds on Friday night; everyone settled in for a great Saturday.

A large number of runners and walkers showed up on the riverfront for the 5K, and Matthew Peters and Kristin LeMaster were the individual male and female winners.

The Grand Festival Parade was again a hit, with political candidates adding to the parade lineup to make it one of the biggest parades in several years. Gavin Craig served as this year’s Grand Marshal, and the little boy and his parents had big smiles on their faces as they waved to the crowd along the route. Gavin has been fighting leukemia and is doing well.

After the Edelweiss Princess and Teen Princess courts went through the parade on their floats; the Switzerland County FFA, the Little Swiss Polka Dancers, and the Prevent Child Abuse Switzerland County groups also made big splashes in the parade.

The Switzerland County Marching Pacer band was in great form; and the always anticipated float by Dr. Robert Findley and Edsel Detraz hailed the coming of the new grocery store in town, and featured store owner Eric Rabe; Butternut Bread man Keith Smith; and Betty Lucas was behind a huge shopping cart. Along the way, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were also pushing shopping carts.

Mid day on Saturday saw the Swiss Ambassador competition; with Eamon Jones and Elizabeth Grote, both of Shawe Memorial High School, winning the competition. Switzerland County’s male representative Logan Todd was the first runner up; and female representative Olivia Hewitt also did an outstanding job.

The wrap up of Saturday was the fireworks show, and a big crowd stayed for the event.

The Sunday morning community church service also had a big crowd, with singer John Thompson from Shelbyville performing and a message from G.B. Turner of Vevay Assembly church.

Both the junior high and high school cheerleading squads turned in outstanding performances, and soon it was time to begin the tear down, as another successful festival concluded.

“We would like to thank all those who helped in any way to make this year’s festival another one for the record books,” Kirk Works said. “The challenge now is to maintain the overall festival appeal and we hope to continue to have big name entertainment on Friday night. Follow up and planning meetings are already underway for the 2013 festival.”

The 42nd Swiss Wine Festival will be held on August 22nd-25th, 2013.