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Every Labor Day weekend, over 100,000 people descend upon our little valley in search of food, gifts, and the latest crafty goodness. From 8 am – 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, the quiet town of Midway opens its doors and invites the world to shop and play. Swiss Days began as a harvest festival for the local farmers. Each fall, after a long summer of hard work, Heber Valley families got together to celebrate the bounties of the season and to spend time with friends and neighbors.
Over the years it has grown from a small town party to a full blown extravaganza.
via Midway Boosters
My family has been going to Swiss Days for as long as I can remember.
One of my favorite memories is when at 8 years old, I got to spend the weekend with my grandparents and their Good Sam camping group. We shopped all day, ate baked goods, walked the streets that my ancestors helped build, cheered for the parade, and stayed up late playing cards in the motorhome. The little grandmas bought me flower crowns and streamer wands and the little grandpas made sure I had my fill of snow cones and kettle corn.
Need a good laugh?
Yep, that’s me in the sunbonnet watching the Swiss Days parade sometime around 1989.
My face shows exactly how I felt about being stuffed into that frilly dress. Ha! Since it’s in my blood, I thought I’d share a few insider tips on how to enjoy Swiss Days like a local. Well, I guess I should say like a festival loving local. A lot of locals head for the hills and hide out until all the people leave but whatever, more candied nuts and pie for me!
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Now back to the post…
A big aspect of having a great time at Swiss Days is being prepared. Slather on some sunblock, grab a cute tote to haul your crafty loot, throw in a water bottle, and if you are staying for the evening make sure to grab a light jacket. It always surprises folks how quickly it chills off here when the sun goes behind the mountain. Another thing you’ll want to pack is CASH. Now, I know it’s the age of credit cards and most of the booths have a card reader but with that many cell phones all going at once reception gets jammed and cards start taking FOR-EV-ER to go through. If you have cash, you can usually get in and out of a booth quickly and with the least amount of stress. Do everybody a favor and hit the ATM before you go. You’ll be glad you did!
This market tote is freaking hilarious and perfect for hauling treasures!
Ok, now how do I put this one? Hmmm. I’m not trying to be a big ugly fun squasher but if you are a mama and planning to bring all your kiddos, try to leave your school bus of a stroller at home. When you shove thousands of people onto a little town square it doesn’t leave much room in the aisles for walking. I get run over by a giant stroller every single year and half the time the kid isn’t even sitting in it. So, if you can, pull out that handy umbrella stroller, strap on the monkey backpack complete with leash, or wrap that cutie to your chest. Baby wearing is awesome for this event! If that’s totally not possible, then plan on being a little more patient with those around you and, perty please with sugar, refrain from bulldozing.
The other shoppers and I will love you forever.
One of the easiest ways to make your day run smoother is to take the shuttle. There is no parking in town at the festival unless you are willing to pay $10+ to park in a crowded farmer’s pasture. If you do that you are fighting traffic in and out of town plus still walking a fair bit to reach your car. On the other hand, if you park in one of the two designated shuttle lots, you will be picked up promptly and then dropped off right at the entrance to the festival. The cost is $5 and so much less stressful than trying to find a spot on your own. Plus, the shuttle drivers are super friendly.
Shuttle parking can be found on River Road (if you are driving from Salt Lake or Park City) and on the east end of Main Street coming from Heber. They used to have a shuttle on UT-113 headed towards Charleston but I believe they have canceled that one this year.
Enjoy All the Food, Fun & Entertainment:
Swiss Days is so much more than crafts!
Saturday morning at 7 am, is the Swiss Days 10k and kids race. You can find more info HERE. If running isn’t your style, head over to the Chuckwagon Breakfast to fill your belly before the market opens. At 10 am on Saturday, find a seat along the sidewalk and watch the old fashioned parade! Don’t worry, I won’t make you wear frills or a bonnet unless you reeeeeeally want to. In the parade, you’ll see area youth, the marching band, beautiful horses, dance and sports teams, local dignitaries, the Swiss Miss Royalty, as well as some of the coolest tractors the Heber Valley has to offer.
Swiss Days also involves all sorts of yumminess! From baked goods to homemade sauerkraut, there is sure to be something to tempt you. The giant scones and Bratzlies (Swiss cookies) are particularly popular. Food booths open at 8 am each day and are stocked with deliciousness in every price range. Saturday morning’s Chuckwagon Breakfast is $8 and starts at 7 am. If BBQ is more your thing, there is a big barbeque dinner on Saturday at 4 pm. They cook the pulled beef in a pit for 24 hours before the dinner and it is slow cooked perfection! I should state here that I’m pretty sure that the food booths are all CASH ONLY, so make sure to plan for that. I’m telling you people, cash. Trust me.
As far as entertainment goes, head into Town Hall to see a play, cloggers, bell ringers, choirs, and the Swiss Miss perform. Or walk over to the bandstand on Town Square for a variety of musical performances every 20-30 minutes throughout the entire festival. You can find a list of performers and times on Midway’s website HERE. And, to find a map of Midway, the shuttle stops, and parade route you can go HERE.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m gonna. Put on a happy face. I know it’s hot and you’re probably going to feel tired but please, be nice. Around 2,000 volunteers work hard to make Swiss Days a reality. The money these volunteers raise funds community and church programs, service projects and keeps the festival going. These peeps prep like crazy for months so that the rest of us can have a good time. So, if you see a teenager in a red and white shirt taking out the trash or a grumpy old farmer parking cars, say “Hi”, “You’re rad”, or simply “Thank you”. They’ve worked hard, give them a smile.
Oh and I beg you for the sake of teenagers all over Midway, please keep The Code. Leave it better than you found it, friends. Help us keep our valley beautiful so all can enjoy it for generations to come.
via Midway Boosters
One more thing… let’s talk for a sec about the guys and gals running the craft booths. Please, please, please be kind to them too. They’ve spent all year sewing, crafting, and building. This weekend puts some major bread on their tables. Keep the ‘tude to a minimum and unless you ask them, keep your camera in your pocket. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to go to all that work creating something only to find some chick snapping pictures, copying it, then trying to sell it for cheaper. It’s rude and it makes for major sadness. If you love an item that much, tell them how awesome it is and then buy it. When you buy something from one of these vendors, a little kid gets dance lessons or football cleats. That’s a pretty cool thing if you really stop to think about it!
Support Small Business or Take an Adventure:
Once you’ve seen all the sights on town square, don’t forget about all the awesomeness the rest of our valley has to hold! Make your Heber Valley visit a day trip.
For more shopping, check out some of my favorite Mom and Pop shops!
Need more food?
Tired of shopping?
Gawk at gorgeous pioneer architecture. Stop by Deer Creek or Jordanelle and rent a paddleboard for the afternoon! Head up to Strawberry and try your hand at catching a Kokanee Salmon. Visit Soldier Hollow for the Sheep Dog Championship. Catch a movie at one of our two locally owned and operated movie theaters. Bowl a few frames at the Holiday Lanes. Take a hike. Golf one of the 5 courses in the county. Our pretty mountain valley has so much to offer! Just don’t get any ideas about moving here because we’ve been feeling a little bit cramped lately and the growing pains are crazy intense! The natives are getting restless, y’all. Oh, the drama.
Swiss Days is a statewide party with small town style. Come on up and have some fun!
Hopefully, you feel a bit more prepared to visit Swiss Days this Labor Day weekend. With a little prep, a good attitude, and some cash in your pocket you are sure to have a fantastic time! Oh, and if you see me, make sure to say hi and show me what you found! Just know that if you get to Katie’s pillow booth and buy any green ones before I do, we may have to fight. Fair warning.
Peace out and happy shopping!