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Local News

Kids rule at Swedish Days

Youths enjoy festival tradition; parade set for Sunday

Three-year-old Ruby Razum of Geneva rides her Swedish-themed bicycle during the Kids' Day Parade as part of Swedish Days in downtown Geneva on Friday afternoon.
Three-year-old Ruby Razum of Geneva rides her Swedish-themed bicycle during the Kids' Day Parade as part of Swedish Days in downtown Geneva on Friday afternoon.

GENEVA – Crowds continued to jam the sidewalks, shops and events at Geneva’s 65th Swedish Days, and Kids’ Day on Friday meant there were hundreds of children and lots of activities.

“It’s very crowded, and there’s lots of kids having a great time,” said festival volunteer Eileen Hutchinson of Geneva.

Children and parents lined up for everything from face painting to basketball to a chance to throw a ball at the dunk tank. And that is where Pat Shanahan of Geneva waited, in line with his daughter, Kathleen, 7, so she could hit the target and cause a dunking.

“We come down every year,” Shanahan said. “The kids love it, and we hang out and let them do their thing.”

Jeannine McConnell of Geneva said she also enjoyed the children’s events. She was at the festival with her daughter, Lily, 7, and grandparents, Linda and Eugene Szafoni of Downers Grove.

“Today is Kids’ Day, so they had all the kids performing,” McConnell said.

A Geneva Angel, Lily performed a cheer routine. 

“That’s fun,” McConnell said. “We like the shopping. We haven’t done that yet – we’re headed for the Little Traveler. We have not had the food yet. We try to hit the cupcake place, The Latest Crave.”

The festival continues throughout the weekend, and McConnell said the next best part of the festival is the parade on Sunday.

“The kids will be in the parade on Sunday, the very last day – and I really love that parade,” McConnell said. “This really is a good parade.”

Sarah Reese of White Salmon, Washington, said she loved the festival’s Kids’ Day. She came with her 16-month-old daughter Fiona, nephew Reese Gosain, 12, of Geneva and mother-in-law Jennifer Reese of Glen Ellyn to see Reese’s sister, Meena, 9, dance.

“It was awesome,” Jennifer Reese said. “They had a wonderful dance performance. My niece was the best dancer out there, of course. Fun music and great crowds.”

She said they always come to Swedish Days.

“I just love Geneva,” Jennifer Reese said. “I think it’s just the cutest little town.”

While children enjoyed Kids’ Day outside, others – such as Jean Peterson of St. Charles – were inside perusing the Friends of the Geneva Library used book sale.

“I love the book sale because you can find all kinds of bargains,” Peterson said. “I can find most anything I’m looking for. Get a big bag [of books] for not a lot of money.”

Peterson said she also goes to the festival, especially for the music and shopping at Cocoon, The Little Traveler and Geneva Wine Cellar.

Book sale volunteer Margo Hoovel said the sale has been going well.

“We get a lot of teachers [at the sale], especially in the elementary grades,” Hoovel said. “They can get a lot of books for not a lot of money. ... They’re getting a good library at a good price.”

Weather can play a role in how successful the six-day Swedish Days festival is. It is hosted by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the city and sponsors. 

Chamber officials said rain is bad, but people will come out in the heat. With some stormy nights this week, some evening band performances were canceled, officials said. 

But all in all, the weather cooperated, said Debra Koertge, owner of Artemisia, 101 S. Third St., and the festival brought in more shoppers.

“It brings a lot of people to town, and we love it,” she said. 

Rain was no factor in keeping crowds away, either, Koertge said.

“They come back,” she said.

Chamber spokeswoman Laura Rush said the chamber canceled the evening bands Wednesday and Thursday, and the carnival closed early both nights because rain and storms. The Geneva’s Got Talent competition was moved from Wednesday to Thursday night and was held before the rain started on Thursday, Rush said.

While weather canceled the bands, the restaurants made up the difference, she said.

“The restaurants did a phenomenal business,” Rush said. “People still wanted to have a place to go.”

A complete festival schedule for today and Sunday is available on the chamber’s website,

On the Web

Visit this story online at to see a video of Tina Birkhoff talking about Swedish Days, as well as a video of Jennifer Reese talking about Swedish Days.

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