By Rick Coates
Something troubling you? Consider the Burning of the Boogg at Alpenfest as your opportunity to rid yourself of your troubles.
The 47th Annual Alpenfest in Gaylord kicks off Tuesday July 12 and the Burning of the Boogg has become an opening day tradition for the popular festival.
The Boogg is from Swiss tradition where a giant snowman made of cotton is burned to celebrate the transition of winter into spring, said Meghan Aimoe, president of Alpenfest. Since it is already the middle of summer we have created a different concept here at Alpenfest. People jot down their troubles and slips of paper they are placed inside of the Boogg and we light it and your troubles go up in smoke.
The process begins at 7 pm with the creation of lampions followed by the Lampion Parade. Another Swiss tradition adapted by the Alpenfest, lampions are created by cutting designs into the sides and top of a box. The designs are then covered with colored tissue paper or plastic wrap. A flashlight is inserted providing light as well as a handle to carry the lantern. Everyone carries their lampion in a procession that takes the Boogg to its burning site. About 9:30 is when the Boogg is finally lit.
Aimoe and the other festival organizers they believe what sets Alpenfest apart from so many festivals are the offbeat events and the fact that so many events are free.
We have so many unique events like the ladies ankle competition and the mens knee competition or the kazoo competition, said Aimoie. Plus we have free food events everyday, free entertainment and free contests and events for kids.
Alpenfest remains one of Northern Michigans greatest entertainment values. The Alpenfest pin that is designed each year by a local artist is still only $3 and gains admittance into several food events.
The free food events (need the button and some events have a nominal charge so get the official Alpenfest schedule when you arrive) kick off on opening night with the Wurst Wagon, where members of the Michigan State Police Post in Gaylord grill hot dogs for everyone. On Wednesday morning Die Groeste Kaffe Pause The Worlds Largest Coffee Break takes place with complimentary coffee, donuts and milk under the Pavilion. At noon check out the Pontresina Suppen Mahlzeit - Alpenfests secret soup recipe. Free (with your 2011 Alpenfest pin or $5 without the pin). A pulled pork dinner on Wednesday night is $3 with the Alpenfest pin.
Ethnic highlights for Friday include pfannekuchen und wuerstchen, a pancake and sausage breakfast and a sausage and sauerkraut meal during the dinner hour.
Most of these events have been a part of the Alpenfest tradition from the beginning. Our visitors like that they can count on these events every year and so do those who grew up here and return each year for this week, said Aimoe. Gaylord is still a small town that is growing and will continue to grow, Alpenfest helps to remind us that no matter how big our community gets we still have a connection to each other and our past.
A lot of people come specifically for the entertainment offerings, said Aimoe. Acts this year include The Alan Turner Band, known for their CMTV video BULL Riding Babe, the Young Americans, and four-time Grammy nominee band Restless Heart.
Alpenfest and the alpine look and feel of Gaylord began in the early 60s when U.S. Plywood built a particle board plant near town. The process used to manufacture particle board was developed and patented by a Swiss businessman and since the new plant meant employment for many in the area, a gala was planned for 1965 when the plant opened. Originally titled the Alpine Festival the event took off; 47 years later Alpenfest remains a Northern Michigan tradition.
Alpenfest takes place July 12-16 in the village of Gaylord. This years theme, Something To Tweet About, recognizes the festivals embracing of social media. For details and to download the schedule of events check out www.gaylordalpenfest.com.
Tuesday July 12: Alpenfest Queens Pageant at 7 pm.
Wednesday July 13: The Young Americans make their annual visit to Gaylord at Noon and in the evening country musics Restless Heart from Nashville perform at 8 pm.
Thursday, July 14: Alan Turner and the Steel Horse Band performs a variety of music at 8 pm.
Friday July 15: Jonny Diaz a Christian rock musician takes the stage at 8 pm.
Saturday July 16: Is the 2011 Alpenfest finale featuring The Elders The Elders, performing upbeat Celtic dance music at 8 pm.