Our little town has come back in recent years with a vibrant community of artists who have breathed new life into the old town. The visitors who come to wander or streets and marvel at our stone walls can't help but wonder who built them. We have decided to fill in the blanks and with the help of the locals, we are making clear the reason we are all in Alma today by celebrating the people who brought us here -The Swiss!
The historic river town is located along Highway 35, also known as the Great River Road. The drive to town takes you along the Great Mississippi River, much as it did the early Swiss settlers who carved this quaint little town into the sharp 500 foot bluffs along the river. Alma winds along the river, only two streets wide with limestone walls between them holding the second street from falling onto the first.
Eleven of the first dozen to settle Alma were of Swiss decent, somehow, lost to history, a lone Bavarian, was brought into the mix. Admittedly, the Germans followed along with other largely European peoples and a vibrant town was born. Forty years ago, the locals say, many buildings in town were still flying the Swiss flag proudly as the flag of their family. Today we fly them to remember those who came before and who created this remarkable little town which is today a National Historic District.
There will be yodelers and alp horn players, and special Swiss menu items served at the bakery and the three restaurants in town. Children will have a chance to play musical instruments if they go to the Big River Theatre.
The local art galleries and small shops will
sponsor a "hiking trail" of their own with discounts and special items for sale
along with a cash prize for some lucky hiker who braves the trail from one end
of town to the other. In a sense, this is the heart of the event as these shop keepers are much of the reason Alma has become such a vacation destination in recent years. You will understand when you meet them. The music and food are to be found along the hiking trail through town.
The Swiss hold rock throwing contests know as a Steinstossen Last years toss drew quite a crowd but few dared to enter. The 2016 event promises to be more exciting as word has gotten out around the area and some of those Swiss farmers on the hill top may wander down to the town below. It that is too stressful, you can stop into our local BEER GARDEN at the EMPIRE ROOM PATIO AT 215 North Main Street and listen to Mike Opitz, our strolling accordian player while enjoying a SPOTTED COW beer. Come join us in our little celebration and make Alma your own. Pick up your “Passport” which will cover all the events when you get to Alma this summer and plan your own "trip itinerary"!
Finally, I would very much like to thank those who have helped me to make this event happen. It has been truly gratifying to see so many people of the little town of Alma who were once strangers to me chip in and offer both financial support and labor. I want to especially thank the BANK OF ALMA, THE BIG RIVER THEATRE and COLLINS PLUMBING for their assistance and support of this community event!