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Fête des Vignerons seeks millions to fill financial hole

While this year’s festival was seen as an artistic success, the event has left a huge hole in the organisers’ finances (© Keystone / Valentin Flauraud)

The organisers of the Fête des Vignerons – a traditional winegrowers’ festival in the Swiss lakeside town of Vevey – is scrambling to cover its multi-million-franc deficit for 2019.

The local winegrowers’ guild behind the once-in-a-generation private festival, which started in the 17th century, reported a CHF15 million ($14.9 million) loss for the 2019 edition on Tuesday.

Around CHF10 million of the deficit will be covered by the guild’s existing financial reserves. An emergency plan has been drawn up to find the missing CHF5 million.

The Fête des Vigneronsexternal link took place from July 18 to August 11 and attracted around 375,000 spectators. Tickets for a show in the 20,000-seat outdoor arena – featuring more than 7,000 local actors, singers and musicians – cost CHF79-359. The organisers had originally hoped to sell 400,000 tickets.

There were heavy additional costs for logistics, security and marketing, resulting in total expenditure of CHF103 million, 3% over the planned budget.

The guild says it is in contact the main public and private partners and friends of the festival to find the missing funds and to propose solutions in agreement with service providers (i.e. waiving of fees, reductions or seeking new funding).

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