The Swiss Expedition


Who knew rotten grapes would spawn a zillion dollar industry?

When you hear the country Switzerland, what comes to your mind?  The handy-dandy Swiss Army Knife?  Pigeon holing your ill-gotten gains in a Swiss bank account?  That mysterious curd creation known as Swiss cheese and it’s little offspring baby Swiss?  Could it be their long-standing history of remaining “neutral” in every major conflict in the history of the world?  Maybe you are a Swiss timepiece ninja and like to polish your Rolex on a daily basis, by the way, the Skipah has a birthday coming soon, just saying.  In certain circles (many of them lopsided), I’m known as Mr. Tag Heuer after all!  I say Switzerland to any chocolate lovers, and they immediately go into a catatonic state chanting like a Tibetan monk.  Hell, even my hiking buddies start bouncing up and down like Tigger after drinking a Big Red at any mention of the Swiss Alps.

The preceding paragraph was paid for by the Switzerland government, and coming soon Skipah’s Travelling Road Show will be living it up in Zurich for a week of everything Swiss, or this post could be Swiss themed and I’m just setting the table.  I let you decide. #Foreshadowing

In southern Indiana, the mere mention of Switzerland means only one thing!  The annual Swiss Wine Festival in the booming metropolis of Vevay, Indiana, that doubles as the county seat of Switzerland County, Indiana.  The Skipah Travelling Road Show (minus Sloane) took the thirty-minute drive along the banks of the Ohio River to take in everything wine, food, and entertainment on a muggy Midwest weekend night.  My expectations were low, but to my surprise, this outranks any of your “typical” festivals in Nowhereville all across the country.

Way back in the day when steamboat and pony were the preferred choice of travel, a pack of renegade Swiss somehow found a little plot of land in these parts that they wanted to call home.  They also had a magical recipe for turning fermented grapes into the popular elixir known as wine.  Quick fact on the history of wine production in the United States: The first commercial winery was opened in Switzerland County, Indiana by John James Dufour.  Take that Napa Valley!

The organizers of the event kicked off the evening with a water sports show along the river.  While Indiana isn’t exactly a hotbed for water skiing, the performers were quite the entertainment for everybody.

water ninja

This guy was like Doc Ock on water, and trust me Spider-Man wasn’t staying in Indiana that night!


Since I am certified in First Aid, I kept my eyes peeled in case the grandson of Jaws got lost on his way to Amity Island and was attracted to women dressed in purple!  

The highlight of the evening would come next with the annual grape stomping competition.  Since Miss Madison is a local celebrity and can’t even leave her home county without being noticed, we naturally ran into some of her peeps.  Even better one of the members of their grape stomping duo had come down with the food poisoning or something similar and needed a replacement.  Enter Miss Madison Jr. and her turd stompers into the fray.  She gave a valiant effort but in the end her team lost in an epic stomp down.  I haven’t laughed so hard since the last time a bank ran my credit score.


Coming soon:  Miss Madison Jr.’s own line of all natural grape shampoo!

Did I mention food?  Apparently, the Swiss Wine Festival is the fourth largest food festival in Indiana.  Even had a banner and everything to prove it.  It might be the only time I’ve ever cared about something finishing in fourth place since I placed my last Superfecta bet.  Still recovering from my epic Ribberfest calorie overload the weekend before, I took it easy this time and only managed to clog one artery this go around.  I even tried some Pork Schnitzel for the first time at the German food booth.  I was hoping to channel my inner Black Bart (R.I.P. Gene Wilder A.K.A The Waco Kid, no way I’m not giving Blazing Saddles a shout out) and eat some weiner schnitzel but evidently, they were fresh out.

food court

Unfortunately I was too busy trying to disprove the principle of gravity to get more good food pics!

After perusing some local craftsmen selling their wares (FYI, give this guy a looksie), we had two kids that were chomping at the bit to take in the finest in carnie/fair rides.  I even came out of the thrill riding hall of fame to take Miss Madison Jr. on her maiden voyage of going upside down on a ride.  With some of the finest negotiating skills that would make a lawyer blush, I got her to ride the Power Surge.  It only cost me a smartphone, two Shetland ponies, and I have to dance at her wedding.  In an unrelated note, I just got feeling back in my hand yesterday.


Miss Madison Jr. is now talking sh!t with the boys at school and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank for the picture.

About it for now, my inbox is blowing up from new readers in Atlanta and St. Louis and I need to give them a proper Skipah’s Realm care package.  Not sure what I’m going to do about the millions (or three) that just found me on Yahoo, but I’ll figure out something.  The seas are wide open these days in the Skipahsphere and after today I may have to hire a deck hand!

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  1. I enjoy reading your posts, Gary. I had a blast reading this, at work that too. 🙂

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  3. Please try not to block any more arteries.
    Great post.

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  5. Not only do I get a laugh from your posts, I also get me some education too. Who knew that Switzerland beat Napa to the wine making punch so long ago!? Now how ’bout the history of Swiss cheese?

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  7. I love the pics here! My favorite are those from the water sport. It looks so cool and amazing–so much talent! I would love to experience the grapes stomping too. This was such a fun post! xx

  8. Always fun reading about your adventures, but nowheresville seems like a lot of fun and at least they can entertain with water sports 🙂 The Mission Bay Aquatics Center (in San Diego) where I paddled last Sunday, has those water jet pack things. Heck I’d try it.

  9. How fun! I live in Zürich, Switzerland and always loved going to Swiss events in the U.S.!

  10. I did not know that about the first vineyard in the US. I seem to recall reading about another first vineyard, but then, I think that was still in the Ohio River Valley.
    I love those pictures of the grapes in the hairs. Great shots.
    I don’t think I’d cope well if my person were as celebrated and popular as Miss Madison, The Mister is already likable enough to gag me 😉
    I haven’t seen a water skiing show like that since I was a kid. I should keep an eye out!

  11. At least the kid didn’t barf on you! Wouldn’t have helped your sore hand any, if she did.

    Too bad you couldn’t wrangle up your daughter for the festival!

  12. I am still waiting for my care package so the new readers should be PATIENT. Cheese, bank accounts, watches, and turds. Thats about it for the Swiss.

  13. Looks like SO MUCH FUN!!! Makes me want summer and festivals to never end. Great pics too.

  14. Festivals and Fairs are so fun and who doesn’t like Wine. Very amusing as usual.

  15. Sounds like a blast although I would have avoided the upside down fairground rides – I’m a wimp in that department – so kudos to Ms Madison Jr !

  16. What fun! This post was an absolute blast to read, like a roller coaster of experiences. My jaw literally dropped at the water sports photos. You have got to be kidding me?

  17. This was fun to read, I can only imagine actually being there. Cool wine facts, now I want some, and to try and be like doc ock on water.

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