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High visit from Bern at Sydney 1 August celebration

For many years, Castle Hill Showground has been the venue for the traditional 1 of August Swiss National Day Picnic, organised by the Swiss Yodlers of Sydney and the Swiss Folkdance Group Alpegruess. An ideal place to invite friends, families, and members of the Swiss Community to celebrate a fantastic day with lots of attractions and a real Swiss fest atmosphere. It’s easily accessible by car and only a two-minute walk from the nearest public transport, so enjoying a beer, some wine or a ’Kaffi Schnaps’ does not harm.

This year, we not only had Ambassador Caroline Bichet-Anthamatten and Deputy Consul General Jérôme Charbonnet as our guests of honour, we were very fortunate to also welcome a very special guest from Switzerland – Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis! The entourage of black limousines bearing the Swiss flag arrived right on time at 2.15pm.

Mr Cassis thoroughly enjoyed being greeted in his native language Italian by Martin Scarpino, and after acknowledging the local VIPs, a warm welcome was also extended to the two accompanying Members of the National Council of Switzerland, Thomas Aeschi (SVP) and Yvonne Feri (SP). The team of the Consulate General welcomed the visitors, and everyone assembled for the obligatory group photo.

The entourage then proceeded to pay a visit to all the stalls of the different organisations. Mr Cassis showed great interest and spent some considerable time with the Cercle Romand, the Swiss Club of NSW, and many other stalls.

Some beautiful flower girls then guided Mr Cassis onto the stage, where his speech was eagerly awaited. His charming and skilful address in all four national languages was well received. Mr Cassis spoke of the importance and the strength of the Swiss-Australian relationships and the values both Nations share. He also highlighted the impact the Swiss have made in Australia and the contribution they continue to make. He was delighted to see over 1000 people attending a day where Swiss values had priority. After acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, past, present and future, the tunes of the Swiss and Australian National Anthems stirred many hearts.

With the official part over, a well-deserved Bratwurst, Rivella and Nussgipfel awaited the guests. A special table was set up with the best view to enjoy the performance of the Swiss Yodlers of Sydney, who sang ‘Am Jodlertisch’ and ‘Bärgarve’, and two lovely dances presented by the Folkdance Group Alpegruess. And all too soon, it was time for the VIPs to depart for their next official appointment.

Meanwhile, the raffle sold over 6000 tickets, and the ‘Streichelzoo’ and kids rides were very popular with the younger generation. Swiss goodies were also in high demand including Rivella, Raclette, Swiss cheeses, Landjäger, Nussgipfel, Biberli and of course Bratwurst, Cervelats and Fleischkäse. By 4pm, everything was sold out!

The weather gods were smiling upon us which added to the success of the event. Everyone had an entertaining and memorable day enjoying Swiss traditions and of course the very special visit by Mr Cassis.

A big thank-you goes to all the people who helped setting up the event, run the stalls, and provide the time and effort to achieve such a great outcome. A very special thank-you to the teams from the Embassy and Consulate General for their excellent support, and of course, to all the sponsors. With their generous support and the hard work of the tombola team led by Bronwyn Kretz, the raffle/tombola, silent auction and the lucky door prize were one of the most popular draw cards.

Martin Scarpino



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