Swiss Days in Berne is the place to be July 25-27 to celebrate the town's Swiss heritage and enjoy Swiss food, Swiss drink and Swiss music. In fact, it's where one can have the most fun possible with lederhosen on. The traditional leather shorts with suspenders, of course, are optional.
This year marks the 39th time the community will opened its doors and its arms to the nearly 15,000 people who attend the annual festival. What has made this event so successful over the years is the fact that there is something for everyone.
Unique to the festival is the Swiss Heritage Village & Museum, which is within the Berne city limits at, where else, 1200 Swiss Way. This outdoor museum is the largest of its kind in northern Indiana with 11 historic buildings that date back to the mid-1800s when Berne officially became a town. Among the buildings are a barn, a one-room brick schoolhouse, Mennonite church, cheese house, cider press and several homes with traditional high-pitched roofs. Volunteers in period garb will explain life back then and answer questions. Several festival events, including the wiener dog races, heavyweight and miniature horse pulls, will be held July 27 at the village. There is an admission fee to enter the grounds.
Billed as a family-friendly activity, Swiss Days has added the first Bixler Bike Tour and Family Ride, scheduled for 10 a.m. July 27, which is planned to become an annual event. Several fun events for youngsters are on the program, as well. Perhaps the biggest is the annual Big Wheel Race sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of Adams County and the Fraternal Order of Police. Children will also get a chance to test their endurance in the 1-mile race set for 8:15 a.m. July 27. The Little Miss Swiss Days Pageant starts at 6:30 p.m. July 26.
There is adult competition, too. Serious tennis players will face off at 6 p.m. July 26 in the Rotary Club Tennis Tournament, narrow the field down the following day and crown age-group champions at the conclusion. The annual 5K race will take place at 8:15 a.m. July 27. Registrations must be received beforehand. Cornhole players will compete at 11 a.m. July 27.
A great way to fuel up for July 27's activities is a pancake and sausage breakfast at the Berne Fire Department. Other events that day include a quilt show, farmers market, sand sculptures at Pine Lake (admission charge), Edelweiss concert at Cross Community Church, tour of downtown businesses and the annual stein toss competition at 3 p.m.
Of course it wouldn't be a Hoosier festival without amusement rides, which will operate all three days; an entertainment stage with local and area performers; and a parade through downtown at 8 p.m. July 27. The closing event of Swiss Days is the Pink Promenade at the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower, the centerpiece of Berne.