During the last week of July (25-29) Château-d’Oex was overrun with children and families who came to take part in its annual summer Festival au Pays des Enfants (Children’s Festival). This was the sixth consecutive year the festival has been held.
The President of the organising committee, Line Grandjean, attributes this success to significant changes that were made to this year’s programme. Previously the festival was held over nine days and activities were spread out over the three communes of the Pays-d’Enhaut – Rougemont, Château-d’Oex and Rossinière. This year, however, all the activities were centred within the village of Château-d’Oex and the duration was shortened to five days.
The programme included a wide variety of activities for children from toddlers to adolescents and 150 volunteers drawn from all segments of the population, including secondary residents, provided support.
The main street of Château-d’Oex was closed to traffic and the village was taken over by street artists and musicians; numerous activities for children and scheduled shows by celebrated artists took place each day. The programme offered several highlights. One was a real mechanical digger, made available by a construction company; children were able to sit in the driver’s seat and, under the guidance of one of the company’s operators, manipulate the machine’s big arm to lift and move objects. Another was a treasure hunt in the “fairy groves” surrounding the beautiful Temple on the hill. Perhaps the most popular was a 254-metre zip line that ran from just below the Temple to the sports field below; the queues for this event included both children and adults – the oldest person to take part was 86 years old! No doubt, very firmly strapped in.
Since many of the events were free, the organisers were not able to provide exact figures on the number of overall participants. However, all the theatrical performances were sold out, some 1,300 tickets were sold for the zip line and 1,000 for the treasure hunt. From chatting to various people on the last day of the festival it became clear that the popularity of the event is growing as families from the UK and all over Switzerland are returning each year.
Next year the festival will be held from 24 to 28 July – a summer event for your calendar if you have children!