Geneva's Swedish Days celebrates 60th anniversary

  • Weldon Johnson of Geneva holds nine-month-old Hanson Nippert while walking in a Swedish Days parade. Hanson is the sixth generation of Swedish descent in Johnson's family to live in Geneva. Johnson owns Viking Office Supply.

      Weldon Johnson of Geneva holds nine-month-old Hanson Nippert while walking in a Swedish Days parade. Hanson is the sixth generation of Swedish descent in Johnson's family to live in Geneva. Johnson owns Viking Office Supply. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2007

  • Ten-year-old Megan McLaughlin of Geneva enjoys the quad power jump during last year's Swedish Days festival. "It's so relaxing!" she yelled to her mom below.

      Ten-year-old Megan McLaughlin of Geneva enjoys the quad power jump during last year's Swedish Days festival. "It's so relaxing!" she yelled to her mom below. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2008

  • Matthew Hanson, 16, of Sudbury, Mass., walks with the Swedish flag down Anderson Boulevard in the 2007 Swedish Days parade. Hanson, of Swedish descent, is the grandson of Weldon Johnson of Geneva, who owns Viking Office Supply in Geneva.

      Matthew Hanson, 16, of Sudbury, Mass., walks with the Swedish flag down Anderson Boulevard in the 2007 Swedish Days parade. Hanson, of Swedish descent, is the grandson of Weldon Johnson of Geneva, who owns Viking Office Supply in Geneva. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2007

  • Olivia Kelley, 8, of Geneva digs in to start the Swedish Days lingonberry pie eating contest at last year's festival.

    Olivia Kelley, 8, of Geneva digs in to start the Swedish Days lingonberry pie eating contest at last year's festival. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Published6/22/2009 12:10 AM

It's time to put on your Swedish face, no matter what your nationality - and believe me, I'm pretty sure I have no Swedish blood - and prepare for Swedish Days.

Prepare for crowds, lines, and lack of parking.

 

Oh yes, and prepare for great food on every corner, free entertainment, carnival games and rides, bargains galore, crafts and art sales, and fun, fun, fun.

The 2009 version - the 60th - of our annual summer festival runs from Tuesday, June 23 through Sunday, June 28 in downtown Geneva. And there truly is something for everyone.

There's not enough space here to highlight everything, but brochures are available at many merchants throughout town, plus at the Geneva Chamber of Commerce office, 8 S. Third St. It provides all the particulars. Or check our chart on page X.

The music

Music is always a big part of Swedish Days. This year's lineup includes sounds of just about every flavor, from big band, to pop, indie to reggae, and everything in between. Music is featured on the Central Stage, across from the Kane County Courthouse, and on the courthouse lawn itself, both on South Third Street.

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Central Stage evening entertainment includes: on Tuesday, dancers from State Street Dance Studio showcase three Big Band-Era dances, followed by Maureen Christine and the First Choice Orchestra playing Big Band band hits and swing favorites; Wednesday, Swedish American Children's Choir, followed by Local Favorite; Thursday, Tin Horse, with three women on guitar, fiddle and keys, and a full band behind them, playing Southern rock. On Friday, three local bands perform: Inspector Owl; Kid, You'll Move Mountains; and Noah Gabriel Band. And Broadway comes to Third Street Saturday evening, as DancEncounter presents "A Taste of Broadway," followed by World Class Noise, with classic soul and contemporary favorites.

Music also will be presented on the courthouse lawn from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, plus Saturday.

Arts, activities

Crafters will display their creative wares along Hamilton Street, between Second and Sixth streets Tuesday through Thursday. Old-world Rosemaling will be showcased at the Norwegian Rosemaling Show and Sale Wednesday through Saturday at the Geneva History Center, 113 S. Third St.

And on Saturday evening, the Geneva Fire Department will have all kinds of shiny trucks and engines out on display, along with firefighters to explain how everything works.

Go green

Of course, any festival needs to feature not only old favorites, but also new attractions. "Green Geneva - an Eco-Fun Expo" is only in its second year of Swedish Days fun, said Sandy Portincaso, public relations and events coordinator for Swedish Days. It's set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We take over the whole street at Campbell and Third, and feature eco-friendly products," she said.

Local merchants will display everything from energy-efficient windows to natural hair grooming products to information on composting and natural pesticides. Visitors can partake of locally grown food, pick up information on farmers' markets, talk to a Master Gardener and learn about composting, among other activities.

"And at Bubba the Art Bus, kids can make art projects out of recycled products," Portincaso said. The Art Bus will be parked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The food

It's not Swedish Days without food, and lots of it. Concession booths staffed by various groups and service organizations will feature American favorites, ethnic specialties and traditional Swedish taste treats.

Geneva Lutheran Church, 301 S. Third St., will host a Swedish Pancake Breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon (or until the food is gone) Saturday, June 27. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for those 12 and younger.

Fried herring, Swedish pancakes, bacon, eggs, potatoes and other items will be offered at an all-you-can-eat breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday, June 28, at Geneva Post 2075 of the American Legion, 22 S. Second St. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for those 12 and younger.

Post veterans will also serve special dinners on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Call (630) 232-2171 for prices, times and other information.

These offerings don't even count being able to dine at Geneva's many downtown restaurants! It's a gastronomic delight.

The parade

To me, the party wraps up with the parade on Sunday (let the record show there are still other activities going on, however).

The parade steps off at 1 p.m., heading from the Geneva High School area of Center Street and Anderson Boulevard, continuing south on Anderson before turning east onto State Street. Marchers will then turn south on Third Street and disband at the Metra train station.

Steve Persinger, who just retired after 30 years as head of the Geneva Park District, is grand marshall of this year's parade. The parade theme is "1949 Revisited," in honor of the 60th anniversary of Swedish Days.

Representatives from Jelly Belly Candy will be handing out free samples at Third and James streets during the parade.

With six days of activities, there's sure to be room in your schedule to visit downtown. It's always this time of year I'm thankful we live within walking distance - as is noted, parking can be an issue.

Pick a pleasant summer evening and listen to the music. Check out the crafts. Down a brat or some garlic crab, or both. Unsettle your stomach on a carnival ride. Get a sugar high on cotton candy.

It's summer. It's Swedish Days. It's Geneva.

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