“Fête des Vignerons” and the elections next autumn

by Ursula Felber

This summer Vevey was for once the “capital” of Switzerland. A thousand extra trains brought people from all parts of the country to Lake Geneva. For three weeks, this city with its unique open-air theatre was the centre of Switzerland.
   Almost every day a different canton or a group of cantons visited the winegrowing town with a larger or smaller delegation. The guests were welcomed with music at the railway station and led to the festival grounds. Each canton presented its peculiarities, its specialities, with a parade, a speech of a government member, with music, dances and juchzing, etc. The pride in one’s own canton was obvious to everyone involved. There was a clear sense of joy and often amazement among the visitors about what was on offer: the “Fête des Vignerons”, the great festival of viticulture throughout the seasons. It was the 12th wine festival since 1797.

More than 5,500 volunteer actors played their part with dedication and passion, so that the whole spectacle had a great charisma. More than 3,000 volunteers were involved in the festival, distributed programmes, brochures, explained the festival, showed the way to the arena, etc.
Actually, we wanted to spend two days in Vevey, but finally we stayed eight days. From morning until evening there was so much to see, to hear, to experience, the cheerful atmosphere in the whole city made us stay there. Everywhere we could meet the participants in their wonderful, tailor-made costumes. They were happy to tell us about their role, their motivation to participate, their outfit, etc. So, you could use your knowledge of French again. But also many Romands tried to practice their knowledge of German. The actors were infected with their enthusiasm for the festival and were happy about the visit. They also expressed their gratitude that so many people from all parts of Switzerland and from abroad had found their way to Vevey. Who were the actors? Many parents with their children played along, women, men, older, younger, different nations, healthy or handicapped people, all with happy, peaceful faces. For years the planning lasted, over one year was practiced, rehearsed. So much enthusiasm on a voluntary basis, all in good spirits. Isn’t that remarkable?

For 200 years the Fribourg farmers with their cows and their song “Lyoba – Ranz des Vaches” have been an integral part of the “Fête des Vignerons”. Each year on 11 November, on Martin’s Day, the farmers from the Fribourg region take their products, mainly cheese, to the market in Vevey, Vaud, where the wine from the Lavaux region is sold. The friendship and solidarity between the two cantons are clearly noticeable.
At the “Fête des Vignerons”, I made many observations and experiences that could be ground-breaking for living together in our country. The whole celebration was peaceful, I did not even experience an aggressive mood or a queasy feeling. The fact that such a thing is possible over such a long time and with so many different people in such a small space testifies to good planning and organisation and the will of all to succeed.

The parliamentary elections are due to take place in the autumn. A very important matter for our country and its future. I would like to experience a bit of this mood from Vevey – namely the commitment to move forward together. Instead of unobjective discussions, insinuations, false information, as we have seen time and again in recent years, it would be important for all of us to be open, not to want to be better, not to seek confrontation. It is about finding the common denominator and remembering the valuable traditions of our ancestors.
We should focus on the joy and desire to work together for our country so that we can continue to live together in freedom, independence and peace. Respect for others and their opinions, that is what we need and that should be the yardstick whether someone is elected to Berne or not.    •

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