By Doug Kish, MA
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest cuckoo clock is located in Sugarcreek, Ohio. This quaint town has storefronts resembling a Swiss village, some decorated with Swiss murals painted by local artist Tom Miller. Originally called Shanesville, the town developed around the intersection of two Indian trails (today known as State Routes 93 and 39). East Shanesville eventually changed its name to Sugar Creek, after a nearby creek. Ultimately, Shanesville officially merged with the Village of Sugarcreek in 1969.
Known as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio,” Sugarcreek is also home to the Ohio Swiss Festival, one of the most popular festivals in Ohio. The 2017 festival will be held Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30. Prior to the weekend events, the festivities start with the crowning of the Little Swiss Miss and her court on Wednesday. The Big Wheel Race on Thursday features elementary-age children pedaling in heats through a course competing for the title. On Friday afternoon, the Kiddie Parade will feature children riding on their home-made floats. In the past, floats have included decorated wagons and Power Wheels equipped with cheese tires. An Antique Car Parade on Saturday is the preview to the Grande Parade at 2 pm.
As the name implies, Swiss cheese is the center of attention at the festival and area cheesemakers compete for the title of Grand Champion, or best in the business, according to the Ohio Swiss Cheese Association. The People’s Choice Swiss Cheese Judging and Eating Contest takes place on Thursday evening prior to the Swiss Cheese Auction. This is followed by the award for the Grand Champion Cheesemaker followed by the crowning of the 2018 Ohio Swiss Festival Queen.
Saturday morning at 8 am runners will assemble for the annual Swiss Cheese Chase. There are 5K and 10K courses, as well as a 1-mile fun run/health walk. As an extra incentive this year there is a prize of an overnight stay at the Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek for the preregistered race finisher who comes from the furthest distance away. Refreshments, awards and door prizes will follow the race
On Friday and Saturday the craft tent will feature artisans from Ohio’s Amish Country and all items are hand crafted. Live music will play on two stages as people visit the fire station for wine tasting and cheese sampling. After you have decided on your favorites, you can even take some home.
While you are in the area, take time to see some additional unique sites. We already mentioned the famous cuckoo clock which operates every half hour from 9 am to 9 pm throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons until the winter weather threatens to freeze the water wheel and damage the figurines. Sugarcreek also has a unique brick wall containing a series of 13 sculptured brick panels. Designed by local artist Sherry Crilow, the panels show the history of the area. You can stop in at the Sugarcreek Information Center for a brick wall scavenger hunt for the kids. The Alpine Hills Museum contains three floors of displays and information about Sugarcreek’s Swiss and Amish heritage.
Area restaurants feature authentic Swiss and Amish-made homestyle dishes, as well as pizza, sandwiches and more. The Honey Bee Café offers choices for breakfast and lunch, as well as coffee, lattes, cold drinks, smoothies and slushies. Their homemade pastries are hard to resist and one of the house specialties is Honey Oatmeal Cookies. Swissters features an assortment of wines, beers and Heini’s cheese. They offer more than 55 Ohio wines, as well as wines from around the world. Another specialty is craft beers with 11 tap handles and you can purchase a mixed 6-pack of craft beers to take home. You can sit, relax and enjoy a sandwich or a meat and cheese tray with a glass of wine. Dutch Valley Restaurant specializes in Amish cooking and offers both a hot buffet and a salad bar.
Broad Run Cheese allows visitors to see how their cheese has been made in this family-owned business for more than seven decades. Located in the same building, Swiss Heritage Wines invites you to sample wines that are bottled on the premises. Also on the premises is the Curtains & Lace portion of the store featuring window coverings and household decorative items.
If you want to extend your visit to an overnight stay, there are numerous hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, cottages, cabins and campgrounds to accommodate you. The Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek combines lodging, dining, and shopping. It is located adjacent to the Ohio Star Theater which features year-round musicals, concerts and holiday shows. The Sugarcreek Village Inn has rooms and suites, and at nearby Victoria Station you can sleep in a railroad car with 19th Century decor and all of the modern amenities.
As the year progresses, Sugarcreek will host Light up Sugarcreek on December 2, 2017. Santa will be downtown to meet children in the Christmas cottage. A Christmas candle lighting service starts the activities with live music and caroling. Ultimately downtown Sugarcreek comes to life with beautiful tree and light displays. After hot chocolate and pastries, you can start your Christmas shopping.
No matter what time of the year, there is always something to do and see in Sugarcreek. Take a trip to the area soon and enjoy some good food and shopping. For more information about Sugarcreek, check their website www.visitsugarcreek.com. The website www.ohioswissfestival.com has a schedule of events, dates and times for the 2017 Ohio Swiss Festival.
The Little Switzerland of Ohio