For centuries it has been the custom of the Swiss people in their homeland to have an annual gathering as this promotes sportsmanship and fellowship among the people. July 4th, 5th, and 6th the Lewis-Pacific Swiss Society will be hosting their 51st Annual Schwingfest at the Swiss Hall located in Frances.
The weekend will begin with a special concert and dinner on Friday night featuring Kerry Christensen, one of the world’s best yodelers. Dinner will be served from 5:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dancing will commence after the concert program. This will be fabulous evening designed for all ages!
Kerry Christensen was raised on a potato farm in Grace, Idaho and had to wander quite a distance to discover his passion – yodeling! A performer from the tender age of three, he has sung everything from western ballads to barbershop music. It was during his travels to Austria in 1976 however that he discovered the folk music that would be his life. Armed with recordings of the great yodelers, Kerry returned from Europe determined to master this ancient art – and he did. While driving the family tractor around and around the potato fields, he practiced 14-15 hours a day. He drove his father crazy and was banished to practicing in the garage – to no avail, yodeling carries very well! (Remember, it was used to communicate between hillside farms.) Kerry’s career really soared when Disney World hired him to work at the German Pavilion of the Epcot Center in 1984. He was the Disney World Yodeler from 1984-1990 and the leader of the night band.
Saturday will feature the sport of Schwingen “Swiss Wrestling” starting at 11 a.m.
Contestants from the entire West Coast will compete wearing special wrestling breeches made of canvas, on which holds are taken. The round is of five minutes duration, unless a fall is achieved before this. The judges score on aggressiveness, sportsmanship, etc. The high point winners will be awarded crowns imported from Switzerland from a beautiful crown girl at 9:30 p.m.
Live music will be played throughout the afternoon and the Steinstossen “Stone Throw” competition will be held, followed by dinner and a dance to Live Polka Music featuring the “Blaser Band” from 8:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday will begin with an outdoor Catholic Mass at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Buebeschwingfest to give the younger Schwingers ages 6-14 a chance to demonstrate their skills starting at 12 p.m.. Ice Cream will be served by the Swiss Miss and a dance and awards will follow.
Event passes that make you a member for the weekend are available for $25 for adults, $13 for ages 12-17. Daily admission is also available on Friday $10 for adults, $5 for ages 12-17, Saturday $15 for adults, $8 ages 12-17, and Sunday $5 for adults, $3 for ages 12-17. Children under 12 are free all weekend.
The L.P.S.S. is proud to offer this colorful sport and we hope that our hospitality and entertainment bring you back year after year. Great food, good fun to be had all weekend long in Frances. R.V. and Tent Camping Spaces Available.