Local History

Vevey, Fête des Vignerons 2019. Photo/Foto: TES.

Fête des Vignerons Vevey

The Fête des Vignerons (registered on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list in 2016), is a celebration born from a centennial tradition, founded by the Confrérie des Vignerons, the Brotherhood of Winegrowers in the Lavaux and the Swiss Chablais.

The Confrérie des Vignerons or rather the Abbaye de l’ agriculture (Abbey of landowners) as it was then known until around 1770, organised an annual parade of winegrowers through the streets of the town of Vevey since the mid-seventeenth century. The President of the Brotherhood is therefore still entitled Abbé-Président.

The exact date of the foundation of the Confrérie is not known, but around 1770 it tasked itself with rewarding the excellence of the labour accomplished by its members, the winegrowers. The best have been awarded prizes and rewards. They were publicly crowned on a stage erected at the Market Square. In this way, the population was able to participate in the ceremony and the parade became the Fête des Vignerons, organized every twenty-twenty five years ever since, for the twelfth time in 2019 (1797,1819,1833,1851,1865,1889,1905,1927,1955,1977,1999).

Ever more splendid, more elaborate and more beautiful, always innovative and open to society, but respectful of its roots and traditions and what it is all about: to celebrate the labours of the land, to honour the work of the winegrowers and their workers and to respect the habitat of flora and fauna, the four seasons, the rain, sun, moon, snow, wind and to master the entire process of winegrowing and life of the winegrowers, workers, their families and towns and villages in the region.

More than 5 500 actors, all volunteers, 800 singers and 100 musicians (some of them professionals) perform the daily spectacle for three weeks in a temporary stadium of 20 000 spectators. More than one million visitors attend the shows or visit Vevey, without any serious problems. It takes 10 years to organize this spectacle, 10 years to get back to normal life, as they say.

This gigantesque venture in the small town of Vevey (around 20 000 inhabitants) is organised by an artistic team of around 50 professionals (direction, production, technique and sets, costumes and accessories) and the management, but the overall responsibility is in the hands of the Confrérie des Vignerons.

The official ceremony is the Coronation of the region’s most accomplished winegrower, as evaluated by the Confrérie. Every three years bronze and silver medals are attributed, but the gold medal is only awarded during the Fête des Vignerons itself. The Fête des Vignerons is thus serious business as well, but it is foremost a spectacle by and for the local population, who invite all Swiss cantons to participate as well. It is a typical Swiss event and that is a compliment. (Source: S. Carruzzo-Frey, D. Finzi Pasca, G. Favrod, Fête des Vignerons 2019, Vevey 2019).