Thursday, November 2, 2017

ALPENFEST TO EVOKE FOND MEMORIES FOR ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Oregon’s Alpenfest will rely on entertainers who evoke memories of the past as it plans its 40th anniversary festival in 2018. Longtime favorite acts have been invited to return as it launches its theme, “Forty Years of Alpenfest Memories.”

The Alpenfest board of directors, meeting Nov. 1, decided to feature The Polkatones, the nine-member polka band that has appeared here more often than any other, and the Tirolean Dancers of Oregon, the folk dance company that has performed here most often, at the festival Sept. 27-30.

“It was no contest,” said Alpenmeister Chuck Anderson. “Even if we looked at new talent, The Polkatones and the Tiroleans are the best we possibly could find.” While both groups have expressed interest in returning, final details depend on contract negotiations, he noted.

The festival also will invite Swiss yodeler Art Brogli and Enterprise alphornist Bruce Coutant to return. Both have been favorites since the festival was revived in 2012 after a four-year hiatus. Brogli began to sing at the festival after the death of popular Swiss yodeler Lisa Ward.

Oregon’s Alpenfest’s performances will take place in the Edelweiss Inn at Wallowa Lake. For many, the century-old structure elicits memories of its past as a dance hall and roller-skating rink. Now owned by the next-door Wallowa Lake Tramway, the Edelweiss always has been the home of the festival.

The one newcomer that the board said it wants back is accordion virtuoso Alicia Baker. She garnered huge applause this year as the new star of “Accordions at Alpenfest” at Terminal Gravity Brewery on the Thursday before the main festival shows. An international champion of competitions, Baker is 26 and has been playing accordion since age 6.

Traditional free polka and waltz lessons will again be provided by competitive polka dancers Randy and Ashley Thull from Wisconsin.

The Polkatones have been performing since Swiss immigrant Al Schwend formed the band in 1971 in Tillamook, in time for the first Alpenfest four years later. Now the band includes Schwend’s daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters.

The energetic Tirolean Dancers also were formed in the 1970s. Although members have come and gone, the troupe is in demand to perform Alpine folk dances throughout the Pacific Northwest. Members have said they anticipate Alpenfest weekend as their favorite gig, Anderson said.

The festival ran for 33 years in its Wallowa Lake-only format until it was discontinued in 2008. Three years later, a group of merchants in the nearby town of Joseph formed to revive it. The result is its current format, with events in Joseph and Enterprise as well as the Wallowa Lake performances.

Details and advance tickets are available at oregonalpenfest.com.

Wallowa County’s economy depends heavily on tourism and Oregon’s Alpenfest is an important factor. It contributes an estimated $150,000 to the economy late in the tourist season when there is little else to bring visitors to the area.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

FOUR DAYS OF SWISS AND BAVARIAN CULTURE – WHAT A FESTIVAL IT WAS!


The 39th edition of Oregon's Alpenfest is over and it was SPECTACULAR! 


salute to the hundreds of fans who attended over the four days, our loyal volunteers, our board of directors and the best polka bands, folk dancers, Swiss yodeler, accordionists and alphorn specialists you'd find anywhere.


Stay tuned for plans for the 2018 festival, which will be our 40th. Details will be here and on Facebook at Oregon's Alpenfest 2018.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

BRATWURST! YUM! OUR BRATWAGON SEASON IS UNDER WAY

Look for our Bratwagon at the Wallowa County Farmers Market in Joseph and at major Wallowa County events. We'll offer tasty bratwurst on a bun with or without sauerkraut, strudel, soda pop and bottled water. It's a delicious bargain, and proceeds support Oregon's Alpenfest.

Here's our remaining schedule:

Oregon's Alpenfest – Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Wallowa County Farmers Market – Oct. 7, 14.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

VIRTUOSO ALICIA BAKER TO HEADLINE 'ACCORDIONS AT ALPENFEST'

Award-winning accordionist Alicia Baker will be the featured performer at our Accordions at Alpenfest event Thursday, Sept. 28, at Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise. Admission is by $5 suggested donation. Plan to enjoy all four days of Oregon's Alpenfest. Ticket information is available by clicking the red button on your right.

Check out her videos at aliciajobaker.com and on YouTube.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

HERE COMES THE 2017 EDITION OF OREGON'S ALPENFEST!

The Polkatones dance band
We're bringing back The Polkatones, the Tirolean Dancers of Oregon, Swiss yodeler Art Brogli, Bruce Coutant and his alphorn, a whole bunch of visiting accordionists and the Alpine Fair, not to mention the famous Terminal Gravity Alpenfest Beer, bratwurst and sauerkraut.

New to the Oregon's Alpenfest stage: the European Take-Out Band.

And the big news: Sunday is PATRIOTS DAY, with free admission for military service members, veterans, law enforcement officers and firefighters.

The 38th edition of Oregon's Alpenfest will be Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2017. Get your tickets now – click here. Prost!

Monday, September 26, 2016

NEXT YEAR: ANOTHER EDITION OF OREGON'S ALPENFEST


The Happy Hans band, the Tirolean Dancers of Oregon and Swiss yodeler Art Brogli with three of his sisters closed Oregon's Alpenfest Saturday night. The festival was a resounding success with 15 percent more guests than last year and smiles and laughter all around.

If you were there, you know what we mean. If not, there's always next year for you to visit Oregon's Little Switzerland, one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. The 2017 edition will be Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

Friday, December 11, 2015

HAPPY HANS TO HEADLINE 2016 FESTIVAL

The Happy Hans German band from Maple Valley, Wash., will be the headline act at the 2016 edition of Oregon’s Alpenfest.

The West’s only Swiss-Bavarian festival will take place Sept. 22-25 with two full days of entertainment at Wallowa Lake and other activities in Joseph and Enterprise. In addition to live music, Oregon's Alpenfest will feature Swiss yodeling, Alpine folk dancing, Alphorn music, accordionists, the Alpine Art, Antique and Craft Fair and traditional bratwurst and beer.

The Happy Hans band, led by Hans Rainer Jr., was started by his father, also named Hans, in 1976. The band, which had played at earlier Alpenfests, also includes Hans’ sons, Karl and Erik.

Popular throughout the Pacific Northwest, the band plays German and Austrian tunes, specializing in traditional Oktoberfest music including yodeling.

The talent lineup was approved by the Alpenfest board of directors Wednesday, Dec. 2. Directors also authorized a schedule change. Entertainment will take place from 1 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with one admission ticket covering the entire 10 hours.

More polka music will be provided by Polka Express, consisting of Jim and Shirley O’Brien with twin accordions. The O’Briens, who live in Idaho and Arizona, were well received at Oregon’s Alpenfest in 2014.

Popular acts returning to the festival include Swiss yodeler Arthur Brogli, who hails from Lodi, Calif., and was a hit in 2014 and ’15.

Brogli is a Swiss native and the eldest son of Swiss immigrants. As a boy, he and his brothers and sisters sang for various Swiss events up and down the West Coast. Amazingly, he doesn't read sheet music but he plays everything by ear. He composes some of his own songs and lyrics.

Among his accomplishments are singing at Apple and Strawberry festivals in Michigan, Swiss Days in Berne, Ind., and playing a leading role in starting the first Oktoberfest in Snowbird, Utah, 40 years ago.

He also sang at the Swiss consulate in San Francisco to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the creation of Switzerland.

Also performing are the Tirolean Dancers of Oregon, popular Alpenfest entertainers for many years. Their energetic style is typical of Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The dancers hail from all over Oregon and Washington. They are regulars at Oktoberfests throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The festival’s official alphorn player, Bruce Coutant, lives in Enterprise, where he crafts alphorns as one of very few alphorn builders outside Europe. Coutant also plays French horn locally.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

SAVE SEPT. 22-25, 2016, FOR OREGON'S ALPENFEST

Monday, September 28, 2015

37TH EDITION OF OREGON'S ALPENFEST HUGELY SUCCESSFUL

Oregon's Alpenfest 2015 closed on Sunday, Sept. 27, with a significant increase in attendance and a Wallowa County musical record.

We had more spectators than ever in our three-location format and sold many more bratwursts than in past years.

A highlight came Saturday evening when we assembled five alphorns for the first time ever here and heard their rich sound blend. It was a moment to hasten your heartbeat and bring a tear to your eye.

Pictured left to right, our artists were Larry Johnson of Portland, Bruce Coutant of Enterprise and three members of Salzburger Echo – Tony Brazleton, Robert Brazleton and Mark Pyper.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

COME NEXT YEAR FOR ANOTHER WEEKEND OF ALPINE YODELING, ALPHORNS AND DANCING

As we wrap up the last day of a breakthrough Oregon's Alpenfest 2015, please start planning now for next year. Our festival will be Sept. 22-25.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

THE GOVERNOR PROVIDES A BOOST

The office of Gov. Kate Brown has just issued a proclamation celebrating Oregon's Alpenfest 2015.

In the proclamation, Gov. Brown invites "all Oregonians" to "celebrate Swiss and Bavarian culture, cuisine and gemuchlikeit."

The full proclamation is below.


Friday, September 11, 2015

THE OREGONIAN GIVES US A MENTION

The Oregonian, the largest-circulation newspaper in Oregon, featured Oregon's Alpenfest in a roundup of Bavarian-themed festivals. The story, posted online Sept. 10, didn't mention our Swiss emphasis, but we appreciate the exposure just two weeks before our opening ceremony. See OregonLive.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

MEET GRIFF ZIEGLER, WALLOWA VALLEY'S NEW ACCORDION TEACHER

Eastern Oregon has long been bereft of accordion teachers. Our alpenmeister, Chuck Anderson, knows because he's been searching for one since he arrived in Wallowa County in 2009.

Enter Griff Ziegler, who has just moved here from Idaho. 

Griff has a vision:

What if I were able to offer accordion lessons free to elementary students? What if I started an interest in accordion in young people in this valley – in their schools? Why not? 

To accomplish this I need help. Specifically, I need 12-bass accordions, small student-model (or ladies') accordions and music stands.   

I am sure that some of you know someone who has a dusty old accordion they can donate to this cause. To start, I need 8 to 10 12-bass accordions. As the students progress, they will need larger accordions, perhaps student models.   

Eventually I will need loaner 120-bass accordions. Can you help me?

You can contact Griff at 208-651-2536 or griffbz@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

OUR TALENT LINEUP FOR 2015

Salzburger Echo, a lively, internationally known band from Utah with the unusual specialty of Swiss alphorn playing, will be the headline act at the 2015 edition of Oregon’s Alpenfest.

The annual Swiss-Bavarian festival takes place Sept. 24-27 with four performances at Wallowa Lake and additional activities in Joseph and Enterprise. In addition to live music, Oregon's Alpenfest will feature Swiss yodeling, Alpine folk dancing, solo alphorn music, accordionists, the Alpine Art, Antique and Craft Fair and traditional brawurst and beer.

For the second year in a row, there will be free polka lessons.

Details and ticket information are available on this website. For tickets, click the red bottom at left.

Salzburger Echo comes from its home base near Salt Lake City to play for the first time in eastern Oregon. Although the band usually performs elsewhere on Alpenfest weekend, the musicians decided to give Wallowa County a try this year, according to Alpenmeister Chuck Anderson.

The band brings the Alps to audiences, playing Old World and contemporary folk music from the alpine regions of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The band entertains with the 12-foot alphorns, Swiss cowbells and harmony yodeling as well as more traditional instruments.

Together since 1992, Salzburger Echo has played many venues and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Mt. Angel Oktoberfest in Oregon, Snowbird's Annual Oktoberfest in Utah, Las Vegas Oktoberfest, Ruidoso Oktoberfest in New Mexico and Oktoberfest at Snake River Brewing in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Popular acts returning to Oregon’s Alpenfest include Swiss yodeler Arthur Brogli, who hails from Lodi, Calif., but has entertained throughout the country and was a huge hit in 2014. Brogli is a Swiss native and the eldest son of Swiss immigrants. As a boy, he and his brothers and sisters sang for various Swiss events up and down the West Coast. Amazingly, he doesn't read sheet music but he plays everything by ear. He composes some of his own songs and lyrics.

Among his accomplishments are singing at Apple and Strawberry festivals in Michigan, Swiss Days in Berne, Ind., and playing a leading role in starting the first Oktoberfest in Snowbird, Utah, 40 years ago. He also sang at the Swiss consulate in San Francisco to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the creation of Switzerland.

Also performing are the Tirolean Dancers of Oregon, popular Alpenfest entertainers for many years. Their energetic style is typical of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The dancers hail from all over Oregon and Washington. They are regulars at Oktoberfests throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Professional polka dancers Randy and Ashley Thull of Wisconsin will return to dance during performances and give free polka lessons before each performance.

Solo alphorn player Bruce Coutant lives in nearly Lostine, where he crafts alphorns as one of few alphorn makers outside Europe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

UPDATE FROM THE WALLOWA COUNTY CHIEFTAIN

Alpenfest grew in 2014

Published: October 19, 2014



Professional polka dancers Randy and Ashley Thull of Wisconsin show their stuff at Oregon's Alpenfest. They taught polka lessons at the festival and will return in 2015.



Post-event review of 2014 Alpenfest finds fest to be on upward arc

WALLOWA LAKE – The 36th edition of Oregon’s Alpenfest Sept. 25-28 resulted in growth on all fronts.

Attendance was up, more food and beer was consumed and the dance floor was much more crowded with polka dancers than last year, Alpenmeister Chuck Anderson reported this week after reviewing the Swiss-Bavarian festival’s results.

“We were very pleased,” he said. “Our new Swiss yodeler, Art Brogli, was a huge hit everywhere he went, even on his own, and the response to our new polka teachers, Randy and Ashley Thull from Wisconsin, was amazing.”

Anderson said a couple from Washington, attending for the first time, emailed that their visit, including their polka lesson from the Thulls, was “even better than our trip to Paris.”

“Even the performers and our loyal volunteers thanked us,” Anderson noted.

“I want to make a point of acknowledging the volunteers who make our festival possible. They decorate the hall, handle safety and security, cook and serve our Bavarian food, set up the tables and chairs and otherwise create the atmosphere that our guests love. They are awesome.”

The volunteer corps numbered about 50, Anderson said. Other relevant numbers:

• 1,030 bratwursts served.
• 85 pounds of German potato salad served.
• 725 pints of beer poured.
• 360 number of Alpenfest Breakfasts served.
• 100 estimated attendance at free polka lessons.

“For the first time in three years, the dance floor was very crowded,” Anderson said. “I should know, since I was out there myself. More guests than ever were dancing instead of just listening to the music. I attribute that mostly to our polka lessons, which we’ll repeat in 2015.”

Oregon’s Alpenfest for 2015 will be Sept. 24-28, with a new polka band because The Polkatones have a long-standing agreement to perform at Oaks Park Oktoberfest in Portland when it conflicts with Alpenfest weekend.

The Tirolean Dancers of Oregon, faced similarly with a conflicting invitation for the weekend, chose to return to Oregon’s Alpenfest rather than perform elsewhere. “I think they like it here,” Anderson said.

Monday, September 29, 2014

OREGON'S ALPENFEST ENDS ON A HIGH NOTE



The 36th edition of Oregon's Alpenfest was the best ever. 

Our new polka instructors, Randy and Ashley Thull from Wisconsin, were a huge hit. (That's them above.)  Thanks to their free lessons, we had more dancers on the floor than we ever have had. We expect to have them back in 2015.

The Tirolean Dancers folk dance troupe introduced new and spectacular dances and got a rousing reception at every one of our performances. (That's them below.) 

The Polkatones dance band, always fabulous, also didn't disappoint. 

Our new Swiss yodeler, Arthur Brogli, was beloved by everyone who came in contact with him. In addition to our shows, he sang on top of Mt. Howard, at the Alpine House and Wallowa Valley Senior Living senior centers and anywhere he could find to stop and play his buttonbox accordion.

Our street accordionists on Main Street in Joseph also were big hits at the businesses where they performed, not to mention the talented Polka Express, the twin-accordion team of Jim and Shirley O'Brien, who played at Accordions at Alpenfest, at our main shows and at the Alpenfest Breakfests.

Everyone I talked to had nothing but great things to say about Oregon's Alpenfest. If you were here, you know what I'm talking about. If you weren't, you must plan to come next year on Sept. 24-27 to experience Oregon's Little Switzerland. 

Prost! 
Chuck Anderson
Alpenmeister