Enumclaw insurance agent Greg Vesey heads celebration of Swiss culture

Greg Vesey might not be Swiss by birth or blood, but he’s certainly become immersed in the culture.

Greg Vesey might not be Swiss by birth or blood, but he’s certainly become immersed in the culture.

The Enumclaw insurance agent has ingrained himself to the point of heading up this year’s Sangerfest, a summertime festival that will split venues between Bonney Lake and Tacoma while celebrating all things Swiss.

Sangerfest, formally known as the Pacific Coast Swiss Singing and Yodeling Festival, is staged every three years by the United Swiss Singing Societies of the Pacific Coast. The society is comprised of nine clubs dedicated to the practice and preservation of traditional Swiss singing. The clubs take turns hosting Sangerfest.

Vesey, who serves as society president, is heading up this year’s celebration.

Sangerfest takes place July 10-13, open to families of Swiss heritage or those who simply enjoy the culture.

Vesey’s wife is 100 percent Swiss but he is not. He grew up in Buckley, sang most of his life and, in 1986, joined the ranks of Mannerchor Edelweiss, the choir associated with the Swiss Sportsman’s Club of Tacoma, which makes its home in Bonney Lake’s Swiss Park.

“I enjoy the music and participating as a singer but I also enjoy the cultural heritage,” Vesey said. “Swiss wrestling, dancing and alphorn blowing are all ethnic traditions. I’m of German descent but I feel like an adopted Swiss. It’s just a wonderful group of people to socialize and be associated with.”

Vesey said festival goers will enjoy the pageantry of an introduction of flags, banquets, dances, singers, experts in yodeling and alphorn and closing ceremonies. Several concerts will be included during the four days of Swiss celebrating but the highlight of the festival is Friday’s grand concert, Vesey said. There will be 250 singers and a children’s choir will perform, with portions accompanied by students from Emerald Ridge High School.

Most of the festival will take place at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma but a folkfest will take place Saturday, July 12, at Swiss Park in Bonney Lake.

Visit www.swiss-sangerfest-tacoma-2014.org for tickets and additional information. All-inclusive packages are available but single-event tickets may be obtained for those wishing to attend individual festival events.