The annual Swiss Days event takes place the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day each year. The festival is a huge event for the community, and Utahns at large. Many locals camp out for up to several days in advance to secure prime real estate for viewing the Swiss Days parade and to have access to the more than 180 purveyors of arts, crafts, and food.
Swiss Days attracts roughly 100,000 attendees yearly, making it the second largest festival in Utah (topped only by the Days of ‘47 festivities). Obviously, the sleepy mountain town buzzes with excitement during Labor Day weekend, perfect for visitors to both the Salt Lake City and Park City areas to enjoy. Nearby Soldier Hollow hosts the Classic Sheepdog Championship the same weekend, attracting dogs and handlers from the around the world.
75 Years of Tradition
Since the 1940s, the festival has been a Midway tradition. What was initially the Harvest Festival, created to celebrate the then-community’s farmers and growers, soon took on a different tone and direction — and a new name, Swiss Days.
The festival set out to celebrate the Swiss pioneers who came to Midway and the Heber Valley, stunned by its similarity to their homeland. The view of the Wasatch Back — including Mount Timpanogos and the rest of the mighty mountains — is indeed visually arresting. (Today, the scene is home to one of Northern Utah’s largest state parks, Wasatch Mountain State Park.) These pioneers knew they were “home.”
Swiss Days Things to Do
Swiss Days offers a lively experience in honor of these forebears. The sound of yodelling and alp horns, along with the smell of cinnamon from scones, fills the air. Spot a few dirndls, flower hair wreaths, and alpine hats, to boot, as the festival sweeps you back to the Olde World.
You can also shop for a variety of children’s toys, home decor, artwork, and crafts from the 180 or so vendors chosen via juried selection. And don’t miss the food smorgasbord, which includes the aforementioned scones, along with Navajo tacos, and Swiss cheese sandwiches (Heber Valley Artisan Cheese produces the cheese from local dairy for the festival). There’s also entertainment from more than a dozen local acts to keep the whole family entertained.
The Saturday parade is possibly the most anticipated part of the two-day event. Community members craft artful floats, kids pedal their bikes, folks ride their horses, and familial generations walk side by down Main. Then, of course, there’s the Swiss Miss and her royalty. The girls, age 10–13, serve as festival ambassadors, and during the parade, they smile, wave and even perform an alpine jig.
The festival is sweet, innocent and friendly — a real-life glimpse into the tiny town of Midway and its people, who volunteer their time to host this flawless festival. What’s more, funds raised from Swiss Days go back to the community to facilitate improvements to town square and public parks.