Berne Festival Reflects Its Swiss Heritage

This fun festival takes place in just a few weeks. Make it a point to attend! I guarantee you’ll have fun! This article appeared in News-Sentinel newspaper (Fort Wayne IN). I shot all of the photos. Check out other travel articles I’ve written by searching ‘travel’.



The Palmer House is Berne has been a great place to eat for decades.

After viewing scalloped balconies, white flags with red crosses and black bears, and bright window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers you might think you’ve been transported to a quaint Swiss village.


In summer Berne’s shops offer a plethora of floral treats for the eye.

In reality you are in the rural community of Berne located one hour south of Fort Wayne, Indiana, on US 27. Throughout the year, Berne decorates its town to reflect the Swiss heritage its founding fathers brought with them from their native country 160 years ago.


The Berne community has many farm families with interesting barns dotting the landscape.

When 70 Swiss Mennonite immigrants settled in the northeastern corner of Indiana in 1852, it was to find a new life of religious freedom. They named the town they founded after the capital of their beloved homeland — Bern, Switzerland. The community grew to 4,000 and became known for its friendliness, neatness and hard work ethics. Today, a variety of industries exist in Berne, symbolizing those same values – printer, milk producer, magazine publisher, and 100-year-old furniture makers.


The Luginbill House is part of the Swiss Heritage Village display.

People from other cultures joined the early settlers, including the Old-Order Amish which today number around 5,000. Yet, the traditions of the Swiss still remain.


The citizens of Berne know more than how to work. They commemorate their heritage by hosting a Swiss Days Festival each year during the last weekend of July.


Quilting is a popular hobby in Berne and many quilts are on display during Swiss Days.

The festival features yodelers, polka bands, bellows music, an edelweiss orchestra, folk dancing and a Steintoss contest. An estimated 50,000 festival-goers attend the festival. In 2012 the festival will take place July 26-29.


Sidewalk sales begin Friday morning at 8 am on Main Street. Merchants line the streets in front of their shops, which are blocked off for the weekend, with items marked down to terrific discounts. Bring your Christmas list to get an early start.


The Gathering House is a combination antique store, bakery and restaurant all in one! Prices are reasonable, even during Swiss Days.

A number of food booths will be interspersed in the six blocks of Main Street, selling crowd favorites like Lemon Shake-Ups, Wisconsin Cheese on a Stick and Elephant Ears.


If you want heartier fare, check out The Palmer House Restaurant on Main Street. It’s been offering smorgasbords since 1942, long before that method of serving was a common practice.


Or you can multi-task across the street at The Gathering House, a combination antique shop and bakery. In addition to large luscious-looking homemade cookies that sell for a mere 50 cents, the menu for Swiss Days will feature Swiss Schuetzie Salad for $4.25 (Schuetzie is a hot bacon dressing poured over lettuce). Place your order, then shop the store’s two floors of antiques and specialty items while you wait.


Take note: The Gathering House is not open on Sundays.


Inside the Swiss Heritage Village schoolhouse we can imagine what it was like to attend classes with all ages.

If you like to be creative look up The Swiss Days Quilt Show and Swiss Days Bake-off Contest held at various locations around Berne.


Make time to visit the Swiss Heritage Village and Museum. The 26-acre campus boasts a nature center, ponds, woods and 12 original 19th-century buildings which volunteers have restored and are available for tours. The Swiss Heritage Village and Museum is the largest outdoor museum in northern Indiana. It makes sense the world’s largest cider press, built in 1872 from a white pine tree and weighing several tons is inside. The press is operated in the fall by members of the Swiss Heritage Society who crush 50 bushels of apples at the same time for cider for school groups.


It’s hard to believe farmers of 150 years ago could create this behemoth of a cider press weighing several ton!

Free tours of various area businesses, including Berne Furniture, House of White Birches, and Swiss Village Retirement Community, are available during the festival. Other activities include horse pulls, Little Miss Swiss Days Crowning, and a sand sculpture competition at nearby Pine Lake.

Check the festival’s website for details.



If you want to purchase something Amish-made, Berne’s Chamber of Commerce has a map of local Amish businesses, including bakeries, hardware, and woodworking shops.


If You Go:

Log on to Swiss Days Festival’s website:


Or you can contact the Berne Chamber of Commerce

175 W Main St

PO Box 85

Berne IN  46711



The End

Speaking to young readers at Fairmount Public Library

On June 8, 2012, I spoke to young students at Fairmount Public Library about what it’s like to be an author and write books. What fun to chat with those little ones about reading and writing! They liked looking at my nine children’s books. When I pointed out my name on the cover of the book, their little eyes widened!

Chatting with young readers at Fairmount Public Library

“You wrote that?”


My name was put on the library’s sign out front!

Fairmount, for those who don’t know, is the birthplace of famed actor from the past James Dean.

I think these little ones are just as exciting to be with as any movie actor. We shared our favorite book titles and favorite places to read (When I was growing up, it was in the tree in our back yard!).

These kids loved learning about the process of writing books.

After my talk, the kids ate lunch – right inside the library! I’ve never seen kids do this, but I thought how great it was that Library Director Linda Magers encourages kids to do this following a story time session. It’s like an air-conditioned picnic with friends every week and no ants!

Ms. Magers purchased a copy of each of my books for her young readers. That’s a sure sign of a caring librarian to reinforce the contact with an author after the visit. Visits to speak with kids is a highlight for me, one I’d like to practice regularly.

If you’d like me to speak to your church, library, school or civic group about the subject of writing (or other subject that can be negotiated), please contact me. xxxkjreusser@adamswells.comxxx (remove the x’s).

One of my best writing buds, Cathy Shouse, lives in Fairmount and dropped by to say Hi!

Have a great day!

Happy Father’s Day to my husband!

Swimming with Chris and Mandy in 2006.

I constantly remind my kids to appreciate their dad. If not for him, they would have to hire someone to help them with FAFSA’s, chauffeur us to visit them, and find someone to keep track of me. With my head in the clouds much of the time with my writing he’s learned to adapt in the kitchen and laundry room.


We all love him for the Christian man he is and his commitment to us. Happy Father’s Day, John!


Last time we’ve been together –taken in 2010 at Ft Wayne airport.



We celebrated with him as he retired from Air National Guard in 2005.



John always gets me flowers for holidays. Sweet!

Tribute to my father Forace Hale Brewer

Dad’s last Christmas with us in 2004.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13


Today’s post is about my dad, Forace Hale Brewer. Dad died 2005. We still miss him. I wish he was here to see how his beloved grandkids have grown up, graduated from college and are living successfully around the world. Since he can’t be here, I’ll show you what a great Grandpa and father he was. Unfortunately, I don’t have many digital photos of Dad. In future I’ll scan some older photos.

Dad with 8-year-old granddaughter Jenny.


Our last Easter lunch with Dad. We always got together for holidays.


Dad raised many dogs and taught his grandkids to love them too.

Photo tribute to my father-in-law

This past year we were saddened to lose my beloved father-in-law, Christian Robert Reusser. He lived up to his name before passing away in October from a suspected heart condition.

He was a kind, energetic Christian man who lived to be age 92. He was fairly alert to the end and rode his stationery bicycle within the past year for several minutes each day. Good example to all of us!

With the loss of my dad in 2005 we now have no fathers to show our love to. While that makes us sad, we are so appreciative of the fact that our dads loved us and showed it in so many ways. Today through Father’s Day I’m highlighting each of our dads with treasured photos, concluding with photos of my children’s dad – my husband – on Sunday. I hope those of you who knew our dads will enjoy the visual reminders of these Hoosier born and bred men who loved their families, the land and their mutual community of Bluffton, Indiana. Leave a comment if you like.

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.  Proverbs 23:24

Happy Father’s Day!


Grandpa with granddaughter Ashley Foltz -Fall 2004


Mandy and Christopher at home with Grandpa — ca. 2010.


With daughter Carol & son Brian at Erika’s wedding 2007.


Grandpa with granddaughter (our daughter) Lindsay Reusser- Reusser Reunion 2010.

What are some of your favorite memories of your dad?

Happy Father’s Day!

Greek God costume contest at ACPL is a success!

Athena, Nike and other Greek mythology characters attended our library meeting!

Wow! Who knew a library could be such fun! My presentation about my 3 Greek Gods books on Hermes, Hephaestus, and Hades at Allen County Public Library coordinated well with a Greek God costume contest we offered.

Aren’t these beautiful Greek goddesses?

The photos show some of the darling outfits the kids came up with! We had Athena, Hades, Medusa, and others from Greek mythology.

The students brilliantly created their costumes from items around their homes.

The costumes were creative and innovative! Cathy Lambert, librarian with the Young Adult department, advertised the contest among her Homeschooling group.

Cathy Lambert and Dorothy Janovyak assisted our Greek god costume contest.

She provided a snack for everyone – the food of the gods: Yummy Ambrosia (coconut, maraschino cherries, sour cream, pecans, Mandarin oranges) and apricot nectar.

A couple of other librarians judge the costumes, but admit it was a challenge as they were so fancy!

I had created my own costume as Medusa – a ball cap spray painted black, then stitched with rubber snakes as Medusa was known for her head of snakes! And how about that peach-colored ball gown!

During the presentation, I read parts of my 3 Greek gods books – Hades, Hephaestus, Hermes– while in costume as Medusa!

It was the gown my mother-in-law wore to our wedding. I know she’d appreciate the way I’m using it to entertain kids.

Sydney helped me make the yummy ambrosia!


Cathy’s willingness to go to so much effort shows the extent librarians go to to interest kids in reading and books.

What ways do you have fun in your library? Do you attend Friends of the Library parties or other events?

Dress up like a Greek God and win a prize!

This week I have two exciting speaking engagements.


Hades by Kayleen Reusser

On Thursday June 7 I’ll be speaking for the third time at Allen County Public Library for Young Adults/Homeschoolers. With the summer library reading program’s theme of ‘Epic’, YA librarian Cathy Lambert & I came up with the idea of challenging those attending to dress up like their favorite Greek God/ goddess/ monster.


Hephaestus by Kayleen Reusser

Prizes will be awarded for the best costume. I’ll be talking about the writing of my 3 Greek Gods books. But I’ll also be dressed up in my own costume. Can you guess who I might dress up as?


Hint: I’ll not be in costume for any of the characters I wrote about since they are all male – Hades, Hephaestus, Hermes. So I’ll be dressed as a female figure.


Hint 2: I created a special head covering for this costume because my female Greek monster was especially known for it.


I showed my head covering to my daughter today as we Skyped and she called it ‘hideous’. Yeah! That’s just the type of reaction I want to get from people because the monster I’m in costume for was hideous!


Hermes by Kayleen Reusser

OK! That’s all the hints. I’ll post photos of my costume, complete with the flowing, peach-colored gown my mother-in-law wore to our wedding, after the event.


Everyone is welcome to attend.

Allen County Public Library

900 Library Plaza (downtown Fort Wayne)

Fort Wayne

Time: 1-2:00 pm.


You don’t have to be a homeschooler or dressed in costume to attend.

I’ve spoken to this group the past two years on my other books. It’s always a joy to return. Posts on those appearances can be found by doing a search on ‘Allen County Public Library’.

Tomorrow I’ll post about my other speaking engagement which takes place on Friday.