Trips to Switzerland are likely just pipe dreams in today’s economy, but a trip to New Glarus, Wis., for its annual Heidi Festival can feel a little bit like hanging out in the Alps.
The Heidi Festival/Taste of New Glarus features food and entertainment with a decidedly Swiss feel.
The highlight of the weekend is the “Heidi” play. The story of Heidi, her gruff grandfather and their life in the Alps will be presented throughout the weekend and includes real animals, so each performance is a little different. “There are actual live goats and kittens on the stage,” says Susie Weiss, administrator of the New Glarus Chamber of Commerce. “It’s hilarious-sometimes they cooperate and sometimes they don’t.” The play is performed indoors at New Glarus High School.
For the Taste of New Glarus, local shops and restaurants offer plenty of Swiss food, from Swiss potatoes to meat fondue. But while it has some Swiss flavor, it’s not all Swiss, so everybody should be able to find something to eat, Weiss says.
Kids will enjoy the wagon rides to the Swiss Historical Village Museum and the Chalet of Golden Fleece. The outdoor museum, a living history museum with original buildings, is geared specifically toward families. The wagon rides are free; the museums charge a nominal admission fee.
New Glarus is about two hours from downtown Chicago, so a visit there could be a long day trip or a weekend adventure. New Glarus Woods State Park is nearby for camping, or there are bed and breakfasts in the area.
And though the fest draws plenty of visitors, it’s easy to navigate with young children in a stroller, Weiss says.
Heidi Festival/Taste of New Glarus New Glarus, Wis. June 26-28 Swisstown.com (800) 527-6838
The “Heidi” play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 26, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. June 27 and 1:30 p.m. June 28. Admission is $8, $6 for kids 11 and under.