When you’re the location of the first commercial winery ever, you want to celebrate that fact. Vevay, Indianain Switzerland County is celebrating that fact for the 41st year in a row with their Swiss Wine Festival, August 23 – 26, 2012, at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.
I’ve had a chance to visit two of the Swiss Wine Festivals as a participant in the Celebrity Grape Stomp (bringing home the victory and giant novelty check in 2010), and have always had a great time. There’s live music, a midway, and a cheerleading competition. And you can’t forget the fair food — elephant ears, funnel cakes, giant pork tenderloins you could ride down the Ohio River — and the crafts and tchotchkes for sale throughout the festival.
And before you even show up to Paul Ogle Park, there’s the Grand Festival Parade, a 5K run and walk, and riverboat cruises. Plus, my friend Kendal Miller, PR coordinator for the festival, says there will be a Close Encounters of the Exotic Kind animal zoo that includes lions, tigers, and elephants.
But the crowning glory is the wine tasting pavilion where 12 Indiana winers will give festival-goers samples of their award-winning wines. They’ll have staff on hand to answer your questions and even sell you a few bottles. Participating wineries include Buck Creek, Carousel, Chateau De Pique, Ertel Cellars, French Lick, Grateful Goat Vineyard, Harmony, Indiana Creek, Lanthier, Ridge, Windy Knoll, and Winzerwald.
Of course, you can’t have food without wine, and Kendal tells me the Swiss Wine Festival was selected as the Fourth Best Food Festival in Indiana by VisitIndiana’s own Best of Indiana voters. Having been there myself, I can tell you that you’ll be spoiled for choices.
Festival times are Thurs., Aug. 23 from 5-10pm; Fri., Aug. 24 from 3pm-2am; Sat., Aug. 25 from 10:30am-2am; and Sun., Aug. 26-10:30am-6:30pm. The Parade starts on Saturday morning at 10 am to officially kick off the festivities.
Entry into the festival and parking is free on Thursday only and $4 per day on Fri.-Sun. Children 5-12 years is $2, with under age five free. Parking is $3 per vehicle.
The Wine Pavilion is closed on Thursday, and is open Fri. 3-10pm, Sat. 11am-10pm, and Sun. noon-6:00pm. It’s $15 to get into the Pavilion, and ges you all the wine samples you could want (sample responsibly, please!), and a souvenir wine glass.