Swiss Days attracts over 100,000 visitors

Midway Swiss Days royalty stand together during the Swiss Days festival. Midway's Swiss Days takes place Sept. 4 and 5. (Twitter)
Midway Swiss Days royalty stand together during the Swiss Days festival. Midway’s Swiss Days takes place Sept. 4 and 5. (Twitter)

Sporadic rain showers and strong winds did not deter Swiss Days visitors on Sept. 5. The booths were packed, the food lines were never-ending and still people continued to pour into Midway’s Town Square.

“It’s like having a BYU football game here two days in a row,” said Mark Nelson, a member of Swiss Days’ executive committee.

Nelson’s great-great-grandfather settled in Midway with the original immigrants from Switzerland, and his great-grandfather and grandfather grew up there as well, but Nelson has only lived there for 14 years. “In Midway time, I’m just a newbie,” he said.

Nelson explained that the proceeds from Swiss Days go to non-profit organization Midway Boosters. The funds are then donated to LDS Humanitarian Services, beautification projects for the city and scholarships for Midway students.

There are 150 vendor booths, and according to Nelson, obtaining a spot is very difficult because so many vendors apply to sell their products to a crowd of 100,000 potential customers.

“I just love the different booths. It seems like everything up there is handcrafted, and I love that part of it,” BYU custodial supervisor Julie Jensen said.

Jensen has been attending the festival ever since a co-worker mentioned it to her 14 years ago, and she said that Swiss Days has become a tradition.

Jensen usually drives alone to Midway on Friday, when the city seems less busy. She used to bring family with her but now enjoys going alone because she prefers browsing the booths at her own pace without complainers at her side.

“I allow myself to buy myself one item each year that’s unique and different,” Jensen said. “A couple years ago I bought myself a really cool butter dish that was hand pottered.  It’s something unique that you don’t just find at Wal-Mart.”

Every booth had something different to offer. There was a booth selling Chinese checkers, another selling baby dress shirt onesies and a booth advertising fairy gardens.

The festival also had family friendly elements; bouncy houses and slides were available for children, and some booths catered to little kids. A doll booth helped young girls style doll hair. Another booth sold doll furniture.

The food booths weren’t lacking for attention. The lines to buy scones and Swiss tacos were similar to lines found at amusement parks for popular rides.

“What makes it (Swiss Days) the most fun for me is the Midway residents get to help in the booths,” said Paige Kohler, a BYU sophomore from Midway. “This year, because I live in Provo now, I didn’t work in the booths as much as I did when I was younger.”

Volunteers from the Midway Stake run the food booths. The Relief Society sets up their own bakery, where homemade treats fly off the shelves.

“People dress up in lederhosen and costumes. It’s kind of silly but awesome. It’s a great time for us to celebrate our heritage,” Kohler said.

Midway’s Swiss Days is a celebration of culture and heritage for the residents, but all of Utah Valley is invited to attend every year.  And from the looks of it, many in Utah Valley took that offer this weekend.

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