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Flooding forces cancellation of folklore event

The Unspunnen festival should have celebrated its bicentennial this year

(Keystone)

A major folklore festival due to held in Interlaken next week has been postponed for a year, out of solidarity with flood victims in the region.

But the Swiss abroad have decided to go ahead with their congress in the resort after discussions with the local authorities.

Organisers said the Unspunnen Festival, due to take place from September 2 to 4, was being put back to show respect for those who had suffered from the flooding.

They said in a statement that the entire country had been shaken by the consequences of the natural catastrophe and now was not the time to hold a festival of such a dimension.

Another factor in the decision was that many of those due to take part in the festivities came from areas badly affected by the flooding and landslides and could therefore not participate.

At the same time it would have been difficult to find help to run the Unspunnen events since many people have been helping in the emergency and clean up operations.

The organisers said that the postponement would result in additional costs of SFr500,000 ($397,124).

The folklore festival was expected to have attracted at least 100,000 visitors.

Swiss abroad

On the other hand, the annual congress of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) will be held as planned in Interlaken from Thursday to Saturday next week.

The organisation's director, Rudolf Wyder, said it was extremely regrettable that the Unspunnen Festival, which many of the Swiss abroad would have visited, had been postponed.

"We naturally considered whether we should also put the OSA congress back by a year. But that would not work," Wyder told swissinfo.

"The congress and the parliament of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad in particular must meet because a new four-year term of office is due to begin," he added.

Wyder said that the congress infrastructure was intact, travel to and from Interlaken was possible and the safety of those coming was ensured.

He added the OSA congress was taking place with the blessing of the local authorities and tourist organisations.

"They do not want the congress to be cancelled. It is also an act of solidarity with the regions affected that we should meet.

"And we'll also find ways of showing our solidarity to those people who have suffered damage," Wyder said.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Unspunnen Festival should have celebrated its bicentennial this year.
It will now be held September 1-3 next year.
Tickets for this year's event will be valid for next year.

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In brief

Festivals to celebrate reconciliation and friendship were being held on the meadow near Unspunnen Castle as early as the beginning of the 13th century.

The purpose was to defuse tension and conflict – mainly between the city and the provinces and the government and people.

The event – held every 12 or 13 years - features a host of Swiss traditions, including the throwing of the 80 kg Unspunnen stone, alpine wrestling, yodelling, alphorn blowing, singing and dancing.

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