Geneva plans ‘more Swedish’ Swedish Days
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media June 14, 2012 10:46AM
The parade is one of the highlights of the Swedish Days festival. | Courtesy of Geneva Chamber of Commerce
‘Midsommar Swedish Days
♦ June 19-24
♦ Third and State streets, Geneva
♦ (630) 232-6060
This year, Geneva’s Swedish Days is putting the Swedish back in the fest.
One of the things the fest has moved away from in its 63-year existence is the Swedish, said Laura Rush with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
“It happens. It evolves,” she said. “We decided to bring the Swedish back to Swedish Days.”
This year, they will have a Sweden Väg on June 23 and 24. The Väg, meaning path or way, will take place on North Fourth Street between State and Hamilton streets. It’s a place to buy Swedish-inspired art, eat Swedish nosh like limpa bread, potato sausage, ligonberry sundaes and Swedish meatballs. There will also be Swedish games, like Kubb.
“It’s all things Sweden,” she said.
There will even be a chance to Skype with folks in a sister city in Sweden.
“We’ve got Swedish dancers and we’ve got a high school student with red hair who will dress up and rove around as Pippi Longstocking and talk with the kids,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of neat stuff, and we’re hoping to draw people to Geneva and those who want that Swedish aspect can definitely get it.”
Finally, they are partnering with Geneva Underground Playhouse to present Swedish Cinema on State. They will set up a screen and show Swedish-themed movies. She’s not allowed to say the names, but one is about a red-haired girl and her adventures, and the other features the music of ABBA and stars Meryl Streep.
The popular bands 7th Heaven and Hi Infidelity will perform. Both bands have never been to Swedish Days, she said.
7th Heaven performs June 23 and Hi Infidelity performs June 24. ABBA Salute is another act that’s never been to Swedish Days, but appropriately enough will be playing June 20 this year.
“They’re fun. They dress in the costumes and wear the wigs,” she said. “Close your eyes and you’d swear it’s ABBA playing.”
Fans of Radio Disney will recognize the Next Big Thing contest winner, Shealeigh, a Bartlett native. She’ll perform a mini concert and meet and greet at 4 p.m. June 22.
Perhaps the biggest undertaking this year is the talent contest Geneva’s Got Talent. Auditions were held in May. Four judges chose 21 acts from 75 entries, and those acts will compete in the semi-finals. Those semi-finalists will compete on June 21 and be judged by four new judges.
“Plus, we’ll put their names on our Facebook page, and fans can vote for them,” she said. “A combination of judges’ votes and fans votes will carry five to the finals on June 23. And in the finals, we’ll have four new judges. The winner will receive a trophy and $1,000 cash prize. We have all ages and all talents going into the semi-finals. The talent level is very high. It’s something new and different, and I think Facebook voting is going to add to the fun of it.”
The Chamber isn’t afraid to try new things, and this year they are bringing in a zip line and a Velcro Wall on Saturday.
“The zip line is about 28 feet high and 200 feet long, so people can zip line down Third Street,” she said.
Additionally, smart phone users can download the Swedish Days app the gives tips, schedules of events and maps.
Swedish Days ends with the traditional Grand Parade on June 24.
While traditional events like the carnival, the Rosemaling (Norwegian folk art show), the parade, food vendors, live music and ice cream eating contest will all be back, she hopes there are enough new things to lure back Geneva residents who make it a point to get out of town during the festival’s run.
“If you haven’t been down in awhile, it’s not your same old Swedish Days,” she said. “We’re really trying to up our game this year and bring in some new things, innovative things we haven’t seen in the festivals around here before.”