Friday, December 11, 2015


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.

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