Rain or Shine: A Cow Spectacle a.k.a Alpabzug

For me, a rainy day means cuddling up with a cozy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and People magazine. I have quickly discovered that for many Swiss, a rainy day is just any other day, except for the fact that it involves outfitting oneself with a waterproof jacket and some boots.

I had been looking forward to this past weekend's Alp Spektakel in Seewis, Graubünden for weeks, so I was disappointed to wake up Saturday morning to the patter of rain on the windowpane. Ordinarily, I would have grumbled to Isaiah that it was too wet and cold to go outside and do anything except walk around a shopping center. Excuse me, but do you think I was going to pass up a cheese tasting (Alpkaesedegustation) and a cow parade (Alpabzug) because of a little rain? Certainly not.

In fact, the rain didn't stop a lot of people from partaking in a little Swiss tradition -- after all, the cows need to come down from the mountain at some point, so why not stick with the event as scheduled? Do the Swiss even do rain dates?

T-shirts reading "echt. original. urchig." (genuine, original, old-fashioned*) remind visitors that, despite sponsorship by Coop and baseball cap souvenirs for purchase, this event isn't a tourist attraction but rather a celebration of the region's dairy culture. Most people who participate in the festivities are local or from nearby villages.

Isaiah, a couple of friends, and I filled the day tasting sixteen different locally produced Alpine cheeses (we even got to vote for our favorite top three), chowing on local fare in a giant Festzelt (party tent) while listening to "Die Stelser Buaba" play traditional music, shopping at the cheese and specialty market, and, of course, watching the cows come home.

While waiting for the cow procession to begin, I snapped this photo of Seewis.

I love these hats - 100% wool and 100% waterproof!
Oh yeah, and that little lamb is so cute!

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First came the sheep and goats...

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then the cows...

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and more cows

...and after the cows came the horse-drawn wagon carts.

We bought a 500-gram chunk of cheese! (Why so much? Because I wanted to use my CHF 1.00 Gutschein that I got when we bought our day passes. For CHF 7 you get shuttle rides from the parking lot at the Grüsch-Danusa lift and back, a cheese voucher, and a souvenir pin!)

genuine. original. old-fashioned?

I always wondered where the cows went after the cow procession. In Seewis, the cows gathered in a large field and then the farmers loaded them two-by-two into animal trailers for their journey home. Here we are, happy to hang with the cows for a few more minutes...

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Yodelling Jam Session

*Urchig is an Helvetism, according to Wikipedia.

2 comments

  1. Love that photo of the guy taking a photo in his traditional get-up. Hilarious. And you are right, the Swiss don't seem to care what the weather is. It was raining in our town on Saturday too, and the jazz bands just kept on playing in the square below us...

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  2. Chantal - That photo of the guy with his camera phone is my favorite one from the whole event. Too funny! Although I'll put up with rain so I don't miss out on a cool event, I am still not so keen on, say, going for a bike ride in the rain. The whole poncho look doesn't work for me ;)

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