Get ready to fly above the crowds. A zip line is one of the many new attractions at this year's Geneva's Swedish Days Midsommar Festival.
"After 63 years, it's time to shake things up," said Laura Rush, communications manager for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
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If you goWhat: 63rd annual Geneva Swedish Days Midsommar Festival
When: 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 24
Where: Between Third and State streets, downtown Geneva
From Tuesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 24, the festival will celebrate the city's roots with old favorites and new attractions.
"This year is going to be a lot different," Rush said, "If you haven't been to Swedish Days before, this is the year to come."
One of the goals this year, Rush said, was to bring Swedish culture back to Swedish Days.
To that end, Sweden Väg, meaning "path" or "way," will feature all things Swedish on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24 on North Fourth Street between Hamilton and State streets.
This new event will allow visitors to buy Swedish arts, eat Swedish foods, play Swedish games and get the chance to see Swedish characters like Pippi Longstocking. The venue will also have a station where people can Skype with friends in Sweden. Paddy Lynn, interactive storyteller, will tell Swedish folklore stories.
New entertainment will include Geneva's Got Talent, Radio Disney and a Swedish cinema.
The 21 talent show semifinalists will compete onstage at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Residents can vote on the Geneva Swedish Days Facebook page for their favorite singer from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Friday. The first place winner of the finals on Saturday will receive a $1,000 prize.
Radio Disney's Next BIG Thing season four winner, Shealeigh, of Bartlett, will sing at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Friday on the main stage. She will hold a meet and greet after her performance.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 19-21, Geneva Underground Playhouse will feature Swedish Cinema on State. Family-friendly shows will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday.
And then, of course, there's the zip line.
"Everyone's very excited ... everyone wants to be the first on the zip line," Rush said.
The Geneva Chamber of Commerce and CGTek, Inc. are excited to offer the new MyFest mobile feature- Geneva Swedish Days Mobile App. People are encouraged to download it for free from the App store. It will provide users with maps, music lineups, event times, food vendor menus, a link to the Chamber of Commerce site, weather updates and a Google maps feature.
Last year more than 200,000 people enjoyed the festival, and because of the added events, Rush said.
"The week is centered on quality music and unique events you can't find any other time of the year," Gaines said.
Music will entertain the crowds every night with bands from every genre. Wednesday night will be particularly spectacular with the culture it will bring. The entertainment will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the Swedish American Children's Choir. The group is Illinois' largest Swedish Children's Chorus for ages 5 to 14 performing songs from Sweden.
Again, the fest will "Keep the Swedish spirit alive," with ABBA Salute, Rush said. They are an ABBA tribute band who dress, act and sound like the real thing. They will end the night starting at 8 p.m. and sing classic songs, like "Dancing Queen" and "Waterloo." The band performs a "Las Vegas type show that mesmerizes the viewer," Rush said.
Of course no festival would be complete without the many varieties of food. Everything a person could crave will be available from indoor and outdoor vendors.
Swedish fare will be served by many restaurants and groups as well. Geneva American Legion, Geneva United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Chianti's and the 318 Coffeehouse will feature menu items such as Swedish Lingonberry smoothies, Swedish cardamom rolls, Swedish meatballs, Swedish fish and Swedish ham sandwiches. The many options will be available all week.
With a run time of five days, Swedish Days is the longest festival in Geneva and most nearby towns, and it needs a lot of help to make it perfect. This event is planned year-round, and interns are brought in for hospitality and event planning, Rush said. The team has a lot of fun and works really hard to get the whole show up and running.
More than 150 volunteers help each year. And Rush said she expects more because the new events will need more manpower.
"Without (the interns and volunteers), we wouldn't be able to do it," Rush said.
And just before the whole event ends, the community comes together. A parade will march through the streets for more than two hours, starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, from Center Street and Anderson Boulevard to the train station on Third Street. It will feature drum corps, drill teams, marching bands, pipers, Shriners, color guards, choruses, horses, vintage cars, tractors and fire trucks. The parade will continue south on Anderson and turn east onto State Street before it turns on Third Street.
For a complete schedule of events, visit the website, genevachamber.com/swedishdays.html