GENEVA – The 65th annual Swedish Days opened in Geneva on Tuesday to throngs of festivalgoers for the six-day festival featuring food, music, shopping and activities.
The festival opened with hot and sunny conditions, with temperatures near 90 degrees, and crowds jamming the sidewalks on Third Street, shopping, listening to music and eating.
Batavia resident Jerry Raschke was at the Knights of Columbus food booth, and he said business was great. The Knights sell corn on the cob, smoked turkey legs and brats, among other items.
"Up until 3 p.m., we had 10 to 12 people in the booth helping – couldn't get it out fast enough," Raschke said. "The weather is cooperating, and everybody is coming out to the festival."
Food vendors are offering a variety – from pizza to sandwiches, hot dogs to pulled pork, burgers and other sandwiches.
Some offer a bit of an upscale choice, such as Chianti's garlic crab pasta and chicken Caesar salad. Others, such as Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors, offered vegan and veggie burgers and frozen sour pickle pops. The Geneva History Museum is again selling walking tacos – taco meat with all the extras in a small bag of crushed Doritos – that can be eaten with a spoon while walking.
The food and and beverage purchases at Swedish Days support more than 30 local charities and nonprofit organizations. Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets, an organization that provides veterinary care, food, and shelter for stray and abandoned cats and dogs, hosted a booth, as the group does every year.
"We have water, cookies, popcorn, lemon shake-ups," said Ruth Ann Pineda of Batavia, the group's dog coordinator. "We're trying to get funds for taking care of all our dogs and cats."
As shoppers milled about and free concerts played on the courthouse lawn, many sought shade and something cool in the rising afternoon heat.
Among those having a rest were Donald Manke of Elburn, and son-in-law, Chris Noll of Las Vegas with his grandson, Cason, 5. They were waiting for their wives – Sherry Manke and Alicia Noll, with 2-year-old Treva – to finish up some shopping.
Donald Manke praised the festival, which he said he has been attending for decades.
"All the arts and the crafts that are along Third Street – many of them are so unique," Manke said, holding up two bags of goods. "I am supporting Geneva and the [Geneva] Chamber of Commerce, and I hope they continue doing this. ... I've lived here since 1973, and I think I only missed a couple times. It keeps getting better. They do a good job running this. A very good job."
Tuesday was Chris Noll's first Swedish Days experience.
"I'm pretty impressed," Noll said. "I've never seen things like this. Sure don't have it in Vegas."
Chris Berry of Geneva and her granddaughters, Katie Washburn, 14 and Jenna Washburn, 11, both of Yorkville, were resting on the patio at the 318 Coffeehouse.
The sisters said they favored snow cones and shopping.
"I like all the sales, and I like the events and to see some friends," Berry said. "I like to go to the Little Traveler tent. I used to love the Swedish meatballs that the Congregational Church used to have. That was a long time ago. I notice Chianti has some Swedish meatballs. I'm going to try those."
The festival continues through Sunday. Visit the Geneva Chamber of Commerce website at www.genevachamber.com for a full schedule.