News - Kane County

Geneva’s Swedish Days opens with shopping, food, carnival rides, entertainment

‘It’s a nice day, a beautiful day, and we wanted to see what was going on’

Larry Saladin dips corn in melted butter at the Knights of Columbus food booth during opening day of Swedish Days Festival in Geneva on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The festival runs through Sunday, June 26, 2022.

GENEVA – Geneva’s Third Street was all abuzz Wednesday afternoon for the opening day of the Swedish Days festival, sponsored by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

Amy Miller of Bolingbrook said she’s been coming to Swedish Days for years.

“For the carnival, the sidewalk sales … and with COVID, I haven’t been out here for several years,” Miller said. “I love The Little Traveler. I come out to The Little Traveler to shop and have lunch, and meet girlfriends. I haven’t yet, but I’d love to see the 100-year presentation at the (Geneva History) Museum. It’s summer. It’s tradition. I’m here for opening day because it’s less crowded.”

Miller said she also planned to hear the Swedish (American) Children’s Choir later in the afternoon.

This was Rose and Ken Baumgardner of South Elgin’s first time at Swedish Days. Ken was enjoying roasted corn on the cob from the Knights of Columbus food stand.

“It’s a nice day, a beautiful day, and we wanted to see what was going on,” Rose said, of why they decided to come for the first time.

Other than the corn, the couple bought kolackys – Czech cookies – from Hahn’s Bakery, 305 Franklin St.

“I ate mine already,” Ken said, gesturing to the bag. “They were cherry. They’re pretty good. Raspberry and peach I got.”

Sam and Allen Novosedlik of Batavia were walking Stardust, their papillon and Chihuahua mix puppy, ending up in the middle of Swedish Days accidentally.

“We went to get the car cleaned and walked over here and oh – its Swedish Days,” Sam said.

“We’re going to get our kids for the rides and stuff,” Allan said. “They’re at daycare right now.”

Danny and Katie O’Brien perform on the courthouse lawn during opening day of Swedish Days Festival in Geneva on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The festival runs through Sunday, June 26, 2022.

The Knights of Columbus booth was doing gangbusters, selling roasted ears of corn, roasted turkey legs, cheese curds and bratwurst.

“It’s pretty brisk, pretty busy,” Knight Jason Stoops said between orders. “Our french fries and our bratwurst are our best sellers.”

The brats are from Belmont Sausage in Chicago, he said.

Denise Hoover and her daughter, Madison Halloran, 22, were reminiscing about all the Swedish Days they’d attended in the past two decades.

“I had been bringing her here since she was born,” Hoover said.

“We would save up all our money for $100 to get four days worth of all-day passes to ride the rides,” Halloran said. “My favorite ride was the zipper. Now I cannot do the zipper because it will make me too dizzy. But when I was a kid, I did it all the time.”

The Rock Star carnival ride flies through the air during opening day of Swedish Days Festival in Geneva on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The festival runs through Sunday, June 26, 2022.

They also had blueberry wine slushies at Geneva Winery, 426 S. Third St.

“It was great,” Hoover said. “It was relaxing. It was cool.”

Tracy Sartell of Geneva, with her son Emmitt, 9, and his friend, Christopher Tybert, both 9, were taking a break from the carnival rides to cool off with shaved ice.

“I like that it’s a fun place where we can bring the kids,” Sartell said. “I love the tradition. I grew up in Geneva and we’re raising our family here.”

Emmitt and Christopher’s favorite thing about Swedish Days was the carnival rides.

“I went on the cliff hanger, rocket roller coaster,” Emmitt said.

“The rocket roller coaster – I loved how it doesn’t go up and down and in and out,” Christopher said. “It just goes in a circle. … It just goes around.”

Lena Sartell, and her friend Aubrey Ellett, both 12, also enjoyed shaved ice to cool off.

“It’s fun that you can just go hang out with your friends and go on the fun rides,” Lena said.

Aubrey echoed the sentiment.

“I like going on all the rides and being with friends,” Aubrey said.

The sunny, warm day was perfect for shoppers as they strolled by stores that had brought their wares outside for easy perusal, such as the jewelry offered by Geneva Antique Market, one of the Berry House Shops at 227 S. Third St.

“We have a mixture of vintage and some newer – ‘80s, 90′s and 2000 – jewelry,” said Janice Weller, one of the managers of the antique market. “We’ve been doing this for 32 years.”

Swedish Days had been canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It came back last year in an abbreviated format, going from Thursday to Sunday instead of its usual six days. The festival will be five days this year, from Wednesday to Sunday.

Weller was glad to have an expanded Swedish Days back.

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” Weller said.

Jim Clemens, whose wife De, owns The Last Kiss, a new dealer at Geneva Antique Market, also offered a collection of vintage jewelry outside.

“We have a lot of antique vintage furniture, too down at the shop,” Clemens said.

Glass artist Victoria Belz, who opened Tinker Belz Art four weeks ago, also in the Berry Shop, was outside on the patio demonstrating glass blowing with a small blow torch.

“There’s a variety of ways to add color to my work and one of those ways is to have a clear rod and add crushed color to it,” Belz said as she rolled a ball of clear glass into a small vat of crushed blue glass and then blasted it with the torch.

Another new addition to The Berry House, The Cottage, offers home decor in a simple neutral cottage style said owner Jonna Kelleher.

“Everything is either white, green or wood and my husband makes custom furniture,” Kelleher said.

A full schedule of Swedish Days events is available online at www.genevachamber.com.

Pierce Cole, 5, (right) and Conrad Hylton, 5, both of Geneva, ride a motorcyle carnival ride during opening day of Swedish Days Festival in Geneva on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The festival runs through Sunday, June 26, 2022.