Terry Wells, of Yorkville, and his sister Bev King, of Friendship sample wines during the 2012 Swiss Wine Festival. (Courier file photo by Ken Ritchie)
Terry Wells, of Yorkville, and his sister Bev King, of Friendship sample wines during the 2012 Swiss Wine Festival. (Courier file photo by Ken Ritchie)
Events for the 42nd annual Swiss Wine Festival kick off today and organizers don't plan to put a cork in the excitement until the end of the weekend.

The festival is held at Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay and runs through Sunday. The celebration commemorates Switzerland County's wine-making roots and bragging rights as the birthplace of the first successful commercial winery in the United States.

It also will serve as the prelude to Vevay and Switzerland County's joint bicentennial celebration, which is set for October.

Last year, organizers estimate the festival drew 20,000 visitors. Friday attendance numbers also were up 125 percent compared to 2011.

"That's a lot, considering we have slightly less than 1,700 people in Vevay," said Kendal Miller, public relations spokesperson for the event.

The festival starts today and runs from 5 to 10 p.m.; from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday; from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday; and from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Entry into the festival is free today and then $5 Friday and Saturday, and $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Sunday admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Children younger than 5 get free admission all days.

The annual parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Vevay and will carry a bicentennial theme.

The Midway will feature Murray Brothers Shows amusement and carnival rides Thursday and Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at noon.

The "Grape Escape" Grape Stomp will include preliminary rounds throughout the weekend, with a kid's stomp at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and the Midwest Championship Grape Stomp final on Sunday at 4 p.m.

The festival will also include a wide array of entertainment and family-orientated activities, including the popular wine pavilion, arts and crafts, river cruises, a 5K run/walk, cornhole tournament, cheerleading competitions and live entertainment.


This year's music headliner is country music star Tracy Lawrence, who will perform at 8:45 p.m. on Friday.

Lawrence has had more than 22 songs on the Billboard Top Ten charts and 18 No. 1 singles. He has sold over 13 million albums. Admission is free with festival admission.

The Nerveless Nocks Thrill Show will perform all four festival days. Also appearing will be Silly Safari's Live Animal show, Celtic Motion Irish dancers, stilt walkers, a fire performer and the Aussie Kingdom, featuring different species of kangaroos and wallabies along with native Australian birds.

A Laser Light Show will takes place before Saturday's fireworks show, which is scheduled for 10:15 p.m.

Additional musical performances throughout the event include: Allen as Tim & the Dance Hall Rockers, a dynamic Tim McGraw tribute artists, After Midnight, ALY'AN, Captain Rat and the Blind Rivets, CEF Michael, Diamondback, Full Circle Band, Heart Breaker Video DJ and Stevie and the Johns will also be performing.

Wine & Beer

The Wine Pavilion, which will include 12 Indiana wineries, is closed today, but is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The $15 per person admission fee includes wine samples and a souvenir wine glass.

The Beer Garden opens today for Happy Hour from 5 to 10 p.m. and will reopen at 3 p.m. Friday and remain open until 2 a.m. It will also be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

River Cruises

The festival will feature a number of special river cruises, including an evening dinner cruise.

The cruises will operate from Friday through Sunday.

Departing from Paul Ogle Riverfront Park, guests can select among sightseeing, moonlight, lock & dam, fireworks or dinner cruises.

Tickets can be purchased at the information booth at the Swiss Wine Festival event, with the exception of the dinner cruise which requires advance reservations by calling 1-800-435-5688.

Friday cruise schedule:

• Sightseeing cruise 4 to 5 p.m. for $10

• Dinner cruise from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. for $30

• Moonlight cruise from 9:30 to 11 p.m. for $12

Saturday cruise schedule:

• Sightseeing cruise from noon to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Lock & dam cruise from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. for $20.

• Dinner cruise from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

• Fireworks Cruise from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. for $15.

Sunday cruise schedule:

• Sightseeing cruise from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Lock and dam cruise from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Poker Runs

The festival's 10th annual poker run will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Registration begins at 11 a.m. at Mo's located at 7 Ogle Industrial Park in Vevay.

The cost is $15 for a single rider or $25 for two riders. Sponsored by Friendship State Bank, all proceeds benefit the Edelweiss Scholarship Pageants.

New this year will be the wine poker run at 10 a.m. Sunday. The cost is $25 per person or $40 for a couple. The fee includes brunch and wine pavilion entrance, as well as a souvenir wine glass.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of State Road 56 and Ferry Street. Sponsored by Swiss Villa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, proceeds from the event will also benefit the Edelweiss Scholarship Pageants.


The Steintossen, or "stone put" contest is similar to the shot put but with a larger implement -an 83 pound stone for men, a 23 pound stone for women and a 10 pound stone for youth.

The price to compete is $2 per person, per event. Contestants have two opportunities to participate, Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Entrants are welcome to enter both days with prizes awarded to the winners.

Participants must sign a waiver at registration. Entrants will have one practice throw during each session with varying throwing styles permitted. Pre-registration is not required.

For more information visit www.swisswinefestival.org or call (812) 427-3237.