In the middle of the alpine summer, the herdsmen on the larger alps play host to «Alpstobede» festivities, some of which are held in the open air. Music is provided by an Appenzell music group as folk dance groups and the general public dance around the wooden stage. Particularly impressive are the men’s «Mölirad» (mill wheel) dance and the «Hierig», a couple dance in which the ups and downs of a relationship are described in pantomime style. Naturally, there is also yodelling as well as «Ratzliedli» (satirical songs in local dialect).
In places where a mountain inn is nearby, the festivities are moved indoors in poor weather or take place in the evening. The local herdsmen take part in their traditional costumes and farmers from the valley, and these days many others, visit these summer festivities.
The word «Stobede» originally referred to a get-together in a «Stube» (living room) and locals still talk of going to a «Stobede» when they are off to visit someone in their home. However, over time the term became used for the social get-togethers of herdsmen – «Alp-Stobede», formerly called «Weidstobede». They are linked to the visits to the alpine pastures undertaken all year round by relatives of the herdsmen and the owners of the cattle. The sporting aspects of the event – rock tossing, wrestling and «Hööggle» (a test of finger strength) – have since disappeared. However, a relaunch of these «Herdsmen’s Games» was started at the Gasthaus Mesmer in 2006. And in 2012 a rock tossing competition was organised in Bollenwees during the Stobede.
In olden days, dancing was only officially allowed in Innerrhoden on four days during the year. It is therefore not surprising that the «Alpstobede» was extremely popular up to the start of the 20th century and offered an enjoyable opportunity to get together away from the watchful eyes of church and state. In Appenzell Ausserrhoden the «Alp und Weidstuberten» were outlawed in 1726.
On various alps and in mountain inns
Around the middle of the alpine summer (June to August)