More than 500 visitors from eight states attended the recent Swiss Heritage Celebration in Gruetli-Laager. Sponsored by the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society, the July 31 event was held at the Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum.

Besides Tennessee, guests came from Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. There were people of all ages, including many descendants of the original families who founded the Swiss Colony of Gruetli in 1869. Swiss heritage, however, was not a prerequisite for attending the gathering. The annual event is always open to the public.

The festival included tours of the farmhouse, barn and outbuildings, historic structures that are among the only four remaining houses and three remaining barns of the original colony.

On display in the farmhouse was a colorful quilt containing 32 squares featuring surnames of some of the colony’s settlers, along with two panels of additional surnames. Historic documents, furniture and memorabilia were also on view.

The Mountain Top Polka Band from Asheville, North Carolina, led the crowd in dancing and singing. Among the favorite numbers were The Chicken Dance, Beer Barrel Polka and Edelweiss.

Attendees sampled locally-made wine and cheese; enjoyed a wagon ride around the grounds and purchased woodwork, artwork, crafts, homemade goods, food and beverages from onsite vendors.

The Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum, on the National Register of Historic Places, is open year-round to visitors, photographers and videographers. Tours of the farmhouse are available by appointment. The venue is frequently used as a setting for rustic weddings and outdoor events. For reservations, contact Jackie Lawley at 931-235-3029. Her Swiss ancestors, the Suters, were part of the original colony.

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