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Photographer's Note

Each year on the last weekend of September the city of Neuchatel, Switzerland hosts its annual wine festival; La Fête des Vendanges. It's 3 days of parades, food, fun, and drink with over 100'000 people pouring into the streets of this city of 35'000.

This picture shows one of the many brightly dressed musicians that participate in the festivities. The style of music is called GuggenMusik and features marching bands wearing extravagent costumes; this sometimes includes massive sculpted plastic heads. GuggenMusik is a Swiss invention but has now spread to neighboring France and Germany.

On Friday night (around 9:30) there is a GuggenMusiK parade through the streets of Neuchatel with the bands roaming through the festival playing and drinking after the parade. On saturday there is a childrens parade which sometimes includes the GuggenMusic band. Then at around 17:00 (5:00 PM) there is a gathering of the bands and awards are given for best costume, best music, etc with around 200 musicians gathered and sometimes jamming together.

Then on Sunday there is the main parade including floats, additonal marching bands, the GuggenMusic bands, school groups, etc.

Being an expat, the thing that has always struck be about the marching bands, including the GuggenMusic bands is that people of all ages participate and continue to enjoy making music long after they leave school. My experience is that people, once out of school, quickly abandon thier instruments. I have seen children in the bands as young as 7 or 8 and adultes in their 70's (and beyond).

If you're ever in this part of the world the last weekend in September, the Fête des Vendanges is not to be missed.

Charlie

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Additional Photos by Charles Lupica (clupica) Silver Note Writer [C: 7 W: 4 N: 15] (97)
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