The Winegrowers’ Festival is a popular celebration held since the 18th century by the winegrowers’ association Confrérie des Vignerons (Brotherhood of Winegrowers). The main aim of this ancient association is to encourage and promote winegrowing culture, particularly in the Lavaux UNESCO region.
The next Winegrowers’ Festival, in Summer 2019, from July 18th to August 11th, will involve thousands of singers, actors, dancers – professional and amateur – as well as dedicated volunteers. Until then, you can discover the history of this unique event and souvenirs of previous Festivals at the “Musée de la Confrérie des Vignerons” in Vevey.
The Confrérie des Vignerons
- The origins of the Confrérie des Vignerons go back to the Middle Ages. The Confrérie is the recognised organiser of the Fête des Vignerons.
- The Confrérie is a society of landowners who delegate the monitoring of vineyards maintained by vignerons-tâcherons (vineyard workers). As an association, it aims to ensure that the correct cultivation of the vines and encourages viticulture practised with respect and reason.
- To recognise the work and efforts of the vignerons-tâcherons, the Confrérie’s counsellors decided to honour the best in a formal ceremony: the Couronnement (crowning).
- As early as the 16th and 17th centuries, the society organised an annual parade through the streets of Vevey after its general assembly. In the 18th century, the Parade expanded and became more festive.
The Fête des Vignerons
- The first Fête was held in 1797 on a purpose-built stage on Place du Marché in Vevey.
- The winegrowers were crowned in a public ceremony, followed by a traditional parade and feast.
- In 1797, 700 people participated in the procession, which represented a little under one-third of the population of Vevey at the time. In 2019 the attendance will reach almost 6,000.
The Fêtes des Vignerons will last 25 days, from 18 July to 11 August 2019.
- One million visitors will be able to enjoy the festivities in town. The town has only 19,500 inhabitants.
- Entertainment, food stands and processions will fill the streets of Vevey every day, to be enjoyed by people of all ages.
- Vevey will become the capital of Switzerland for one summer. In all, 20 Journées Cantonales (Canton Days) will take place. Representatives from Switzerland’s 26 cantons will hold folk, musical and theatrical entertainment, processions and sell local products.
- Legend has it that there is only one Fête des Vignerons every generation because of the time it takes the citizens of Vevey to recover from the last one!
- Nine months after the Fête des Vignerons, there is a baby boom in the region around Lake Geneva. The term “Bébé de Fête” is well known in Vevey and Montreux.
- In 1865, during the 5th Fête des Vignerons, women wore crinoline dresses (with metal frames). The dresses were so large and heavy that the architects of the arena feared it would collapse under the weight.
- The Ramasses-Crottes (poo collectors) are there to guarantee cleanliness. They choreograph their collection operations so well that they are acclaimed and applauded with the same enthusiasm as the actors on stage!
- On 11 August 1999, during the daytime and in the middle of a performance, the sky darkened and time stood still in the Fête des Vigneron’s arena. For a few minutes, spectators, actors and participants could admire one of the most dramatic total solar eclipses of the 20th century!