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Costume and alpine herdsmen festival Long event, short on visitors

A colourful parade and closing ceremony marked the end of the Unspunnen festival in Alpine resort of Interlaken. Although the festival was three-times as long as the previous event in 2006, it attracted fewer visitors this time.

In all, 90,000 people visited the many folklore events and activities that made up the nine-day Unspunnen festival,external link according the organising committee; 150,000 had been expected. The drop was mainly due to the bad weather, the organisers said. However, they reported that overall the festival had gone well. The mood had been a good one, despite the rain.

But the sun came out for last day of the traditional festival. More than 4,000 people took part in the parade through Interlaken on Sunday morning, showing that Swiss traditions, of which there are many, are still very much alive. Around 25,000 visitors attended, said the festival.

Lost stone

There had been speculation before the festival that the festival's symbolic Unspunnen stone, which was stolen – for the second time – in 2005, would turn up again. It was first taken in 1984 by regional separatists from Jura to make a political statement, was returned in 2001, before disappearing again four years later. It has since been replaced. There have been some political developments– the canton Bern town of Moutier has voted to return to canton Jura - so hopes had been raised that the stone would reappear.

But to no avail, as the organising committee president Ueli Bettler said on Sunday. “We have tried all possible avenues to get it back,” he said. There are indications that the stone is in canton Jura. But the organisers say they don’t necessarily want it back now.

(All pictures: Keystone, original text Swiss news agency SDA)