Ohio Swiss Festival - Sugarcreek

82.) Ohio Swiss Festival – Sugarcreek – October 2, 2010

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When we arrived in Sugarcreek, “the Switzerland of Ohio,” we were met with closed roads and $5 parking lots…usually not how I want to start a festival experience. But the surprise was strictly my own fault, as I had assumed that the parking map I printed out showed me free parking areas.

Looking at it now, it does not.

But rather than paying the five dollars then (because it adds up after 80 festivals), I tried my hand with the navigation, combing the side streets for some free parking not that far away (6-8 blocks?).

Fortunately, my mom didn’t kill me about the hike since we were pleasantly distracted along the way…

 

…with the preparation of a parade.

As it turned out, the parade was about to start in an hour and volunteers and participants were getting things ready in the street. We took this rare opportunity to admire that which was later going to be admired by others, including…

…historic cars…

…and some cool floats.

But after shooting a few pics, I realized that there might be some obstacles getting back to my car once the parade began. So we sped things up, starting down the road and finding ourselves in the heart…

…of the Ohio Swiss Festival.

Celebrating its 58th year, the Ohio Swiss Festival did its best to bring out the Swiss culture through 2 principle mediums…

 

…1.) cultural entertainment…

…which you can check out here…

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…2.) and cheese.

As it turns out, the area of Sugarcreek is the largest producer of Swiss cheese in the United States with roots going back 200 years to the Swiss canton (territory) of Bern, where Emmental (Swiss cheese’s real name) comes from.

And although the festival was originally created to promote area cheese makers during a time when the demand had fallen, people from all over now make a point of coming here…

…to the Ohio Swiss Cheese & Fine Wine Market…

…to buy high quality, award-winning cheese from area cheese makers.

Set up in the firehouse, tables were lined up with local businesses…

…each with tons of free samples.

This caused a growing line to slowly snake along the length of the tables as festival goers sampled this and that. I tried getting in line myself, but, with my growling stomach, there just wasn’t any time to waste in such a slow moving line. We would be hitting stores in Amish Country later in the day (with plenty of free samples), so we continued on…

…to a midway filled with brats, gyros, pasta and Chinese food.

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And there was also fried cheese, if we wanted to stay with the festival theme.
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Something that sounded good to me was a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich from the Sugarcreek Rotary Club.

They grilled two pieces of homemade bread on a hot, rotating disk…

…before putting some Swiss cheese in there and grilling it some more.

I added some mustard from another vendor.

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, people already had their cheese fill and were looking for dessert.

One popular spot was the First Mennonite Church apple fritter booth…

…where they didn’t really look like fritters but they did look good.

Mom settled on something a little harder to get for us city folk.

When people weren’t eating…

…they were milking fake cows by themselves…

…or with friends…

… they were going on a multitude of modern electrically powered rides (something curious in the heart of Amish Country)…

…and they were playing a game with America’s favorite cheese-lover…

…the Mouse.

The Mouse Game, like I saw in Strasburg, is played by betting on a number. If the mouse goes down the hole of the same number, you win…
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…and we did.

We took our extra earnings and tried making our way through the crowded streets. With the filled sidewalks and curbs of downtown Sugarcreek, we knew that the parade was getting closer…
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…and it was time to go.

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