GENEVA – Swedish Days opened Tuesday to a butter-yellow sun in a bright blue sky, a sweep of light clouds and a mild breeze, a perfect start to the six-day festival in downtown Geneva.
Crowds packed Third Street, listening to concerts on the lawn, eating everything from roast beef sandwiches to roasted ears of corn and shopping.
“As long as she’s shopping, she’s happy,” said Gary Noland of North Aurora, sitting on a bench with his wife, Judy Noland, and a cousin, Karen Neill, of San Diego. “And as long as she’s happy, I’m happy.”
Noland was finishing up the last of his Italian beef sandwich, his wife was eating a roasted ear of sweet corn, and Neill was enjoying a Ream’s bratwurst replete with mustard.
“I came for the food because you can’t get these out in California,” Neill said. “I traveled 1,800 miles to help my parents, but we came here to have a break, and it was a nice break.”
A train display at the Geneva History Center, 113 S. Third St., also served as a big attraction. Amy Conley of Geneva and her two sons, Andrew, 6, and Grant, 3, stood watching seven model trains as they meandered through an elaborate setup, hauling cargo and people.
“We’ve been here all morning,” said Conley, as her sons gazed at the model engines at work. “We’re having a great time. We have been here at the history center all day, watching the trains. We’re going to walk up and down the street and probably find some lunch.”
“We have been busy, lots of families and kids to see the train show and the exhibits,” history center curator Jessica Strube said. “We are charging admission, but that’s not deterring anyone.”
The history center also is offering a walking taco for a walking tour of 25 historical buildings in downtown Geneva. Executive Director Terry Emma described a walking taco.
“You take a small bag of Fritos, you cut off the top, you smoosh it a little bit,” said Emma, speaking from a booth just outside the history center. “You add a scoop of meat, and you do cheese, lettuce, sour cream and taco sauce, put a spoon in it, and you go.”
Lynda Johnson, secretary of the history center board, suggested the walking taco in connection with the walking tour.
By early afternoon, they sold 50 walking tacos and tour guides, and plan to be open for the entire festival.
“We have 400 pounds of taco meat waiting in the freezer,” Emma said.
Mackenzie Carroll, a clerk at Circa selling items at a sidewalk sale, said business was good and lots of people liked their signs, proclaiming, among other things, “Sweet Home Geneva.”
“Lots of people from out of town and locals mixed in as well out to support the community,” Carroll said. “That’s what it’s all about. And everyone loves our signs.”
Maureen Cosyns and Shari Kelly of Embassy Group, an office they rent above the history center, were walking around their very first Swedish Days with Cosyns’ Great Dane, Emma.
“The crowds, the music, the food – it’s perfect weather,” Cosyns said. “I had a pork chop sandwich – it was delicious.”
“I had cheese curds,” Kelly said.
“We’re going to the concert later to hear 7th Heaven,” Cosyns said.