With spectators from as far away as Calgary, Edmonton and parts of British Columbia in attendance, the 11th annual Spring Fest in Rimbey was another overwhelming success.
Close to 400 people turned out at the Community Centre on Saturday, May 3 to enjoy some great food and entertainment as the Wildrose Yodel Club and other performers took to the stage.
“According to the comments we heard from the audience, it was a wonderful concert program. The event started out with the members of the Wildrose Yodel Club singing a prayer song in order to say grace before the meal. The meal itself was a great, fine dining experience for many of our guests,” said Club Secretary Fred Salvisberg. “The concert was dominated with Swiss yodel songs telling stories about the beautiful Swiss Alps, shepherds tending to the cattle high up in the mountain meadows and traditional yodel songs, which tell no specific story but are nevertheless very special with an ‘a cappella’ harmony.”
In addition to the yodelers, The Irish Dancers of Red Deer and a small group who played a few Swiss country songs playing button accordions also entertained those in attendance.
Spring Fest has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the residents of the Rimbey area. The Wildrose Yodel Club was formed in central Alberta in 1997 by ten Swiss emigrants eager to sing and yodel. Since then the club has grown to 15 members from all walks of life and professions who meet each Thursday nights at Lacombe, Alberta.
Over the years the club has performed in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary and has also performed at numerous charity events in senior’s lodges and churches across the region and have even had a short stint on Country Music Television (CMT).
“We celebrated our first Spring Fest in 1998 with summer like temperatures of 30° Celsius. On the other hand, the weather has turned on us a couple of times with blizzard like conditions and eight inches of snow,” Salvisberg said in recounting previous Spring Fests. “We have dealt with sold out crowds for 11 years. We are always concerned about the comfort of our guests, and we don’t want to stuff the Rimbey Community Centre to the last seat. Most of the guests are drawn from central Alberta, but some groups from as far away as Stony Plain, Camrose and Elnora have attended the Spring Fest year after year. It’s also not uncommon to see people from out of the province.”
In addition to Spring Fest in Rimbey, The Wildrose Yodel Club also hosts the Harvest Concert in Innisfail, but their performances are certainly not limited to central Alberta.
In October of 2002 the Wildrose Yodelers went on a concert tour through the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia where they performed at several different venues during the annual Wine Festival.
In 2003 the group was awarded a gold medal at the Saengerfest 2003 of the North American Swiss Singing Alliance in New Glarus, Wisconsin and followed that up in 2004 when they had the honour of performing as a guest choir at the 25th Pacific Coast Swiss Singing and Yodeling Festival in Long Beach, California.
Two years later they hit the road again taking a trip to the Saengerfest 2006 in Toledo, Ohio, which was combined with a tour and concert in Holmes County, Ohio, home of many Amish people.
From October 11 – 15, 2007, the Wildrose Yodel Club along with spouses and friends, went on tour through the Okanagan Valley again performing at a number of different venues.
The group has another big trip planned, but in this case, they’ll probably need to pack some extra clothing as they will be heading overseas to attend the National Swiss Yodeling Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland in June of 2008.
But according to Salvisberg, they still need a bit of fine-tuning.
“We have a few more rehearsals to iron out little wrinkles of the competition song so that we can impress the jurors in Lucerne,” he said. “With proceeds from events like the Spring Fest, we are able to pay ongoing expenses and help out with the costs for this trip. We also have made donations to STARS Air Ambulance for many years.”
For more information on the Wildrose Yodel Club, or to check out their upcoming trip to Switzerland, check them out online at: www.salranch-tours.com/wildrose