ALMA, Wisconsin will be hosting its annual Swiss Heritage Days on the last weekend of July. The event is a citywide celebration recognizing the Swiss settlers who truly built a town with a solid foundation, as the original streets and homesteads of Alma were literally carved into a stone hillside overlooking the Mississippi River. Alma’s 12 famous “stair step streets” showcase just one example of the town's Swiss legacy. Each year, Alma residents celebrate those early settlers from the Swiss Alps who looked at the steep Mississippi bluffs and said, “We can build here!”
MUSIC: Find traditional Swiss Alphorn players, Mary & Ralph Brindle, on Main Street from noon to 5pm on Friday and 10-5pm on Saturday. They will stroll up and down Main Street making various stops along the way with a final performance at Buena Vista Scenic Overlook on Saturday at 5pm. Listen for the Sound of Music! Enjoy Polka Music & Yodeling on the patio of the Alfresco Pizzeria at the Hotel de Ville Grand from 1-4pm on Friday and 10-5pm on Saturday. Ray Rubenzer and Mike Opitz will get you dancing! Enjoy a Spotted Cow and Pretzels on the patio!
FOOD: Come to town early on Saturday morning and enjoy a Swiss pancake breakfast from 8-11:30am at Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center. Pier 4 Café will be serving a special Swiss Quiche with fresh fruit. The Alma Bakery will have fresh baked pretzels and other Swiss baked goods. Find traditional Swiss meatballs at Bill’s Talk of The Town. Fire & Ice will be serving traditional sweets, Sachertorte and Nuustorte, with your gourmet coffee, and make sure to get your free ice cream from 1-3pm if you’re a child in traditional Swiss attire! Grab a brat at the Fire Department along with a tour of a fire truck. The American Legion will be serving steak sandwiches and grilled bratwursts. Relax after all that polka dancing with a Spotted Cow and pretzels on the patio/beer garden of the Hotel de Ville Grand.
SHOPPING: The local art galleries and gift shops sponsor a “hiking trail”each year. Artists create Swiss-inspired works of art, and the gift shops stock up on Swiss-themed items. "Hikers" receive an Alma Swiss passport and get stamps at participating locations. The passports are then put into a drawing, which is held at 4pm on Saturday at Fire & Ice. The passport of one lucky hiker is awarded 150 Alma Dollars, equivalent to $150 dollars at the participating galleries and gift shops in Alma, Wisconsin.
ACTIVITIES: Congratulate Alma's Swiss Misses as you see these lovely ladies strolling Main Street on Saturday. They'd be tickled to have a picture taken with you! The Swiss Rock Toss, or Steinstossen, is a much talked about event where men, women and children see how far they can toss a 20lb rock. This event is hosted by Alma’s Volunteer Fire Department at 2pm on Saturday in a lot across from City Hall. Buy a toss, win a prize, and support the Fire Department. Bluebird gallery will have a selfie photobooth where you can say Swiss Cheese in front of a Swiss Mountain backdrop. Make-n-Take your own Swiss Craft at one of Alma's newest shops, Modern Flair Vintage. The Burlington Hotel & Quilt Shop is holding a Swiss Fabric Arts Contest. Entries due by 9/12/19. Castlerock Museum will have a tent on Main Street on Saturday to discuss the impact the Swiss had on the history of warfare by explaining Pikemen and Halberdiers. Update: no tent on Main Street this year, but head up Castlerock Museum to learn about Swiss warefare! Open from 1-4pm on Friday and Saturday. The Alma Historical Society will give a short Swiss history lesson every hour on the hour at the Alma Area Museum, and learn more about Alma’s beloved Blanche Schneider in whose memory this event is held.
LOCK & DAM #4 will be hosting its annual open house in conjunction with Swiss Heritage Days! A unique opportunity to tour the facility and see the inner workings of a lock and dam system! Lock Master Judy Denzer will be your host. Stop by between 10-2pm on Saturday.
Alma residents invite you to visit their historic town, hike the stair step streets, and experience Swiss culture through music, food, dance and other activities. Join them for a fun-filled weekend, and get into the spirit by wearing Swiss-inspired dress! If you’re not sure what to wear, there are shops selling Swiss t-shirts in town! Or simply wear red & white! Badgers apparel welcomed :)
A SPECIAL THANKS to event sponsor the Hotel de Ville (for more info: 612-423-3653) and the fine establishments of the Hotel de Ville Grand: Fire & Ice (coffee and ice cream shop), Gypsy Wagon (antiques and curiosities), Art & Soul (art and imports), and Alfresco Pizzeria (pizza, bar, and patio).