300,000 visitors expected, over 70 hectares of sports facilities, services, dining areas, tensile structures and camping areas, and above all the largest temporary arena in the world, with an area of 5 hectares, 270 metres in diameter, a circumference of 850 metres, 18 metre-high stands and a capacity of 56,500 seats. No, these statistics don’t refer to a football cup final or a huge rock concert, but to an event of comparable importance, at least in the eyes of Swiss people: we are talking about ESAF, the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Games Festival, which this year takes place in Zug, near Zurich, on 23–25 August 2019.
The event is held every three years and focuses on three traditional sports disciplines that are extremely popular in Switzerland, mainly among the German-speaking population, namely Swiss wrestling, stone putting and Hornussen. Swiss wrestling is a traditional sport first documented in the 15th century. Just like in Japanese sumo wrestling, two competitors face each other in a circular, sawdust-covered ring and try to grab the edges of their opponent’s shorts, using every trick to throw him to the ground. Three referees oversee the bout and victory is awarded to the contender who scores the most points.
In stone putting, which is similar to shot putting, the competitor who throws the stone the furthest wins, the only catch being that the stone (called the Unspunnen stone) is a huge block of heavy granite weighing not less than 83 kilos! The first official contest was held in 1805, but the origins of the discipline go as far back as the early Middle Ages.
Hornussen is an ancient rural game, a cross between golf and baseball, in which a batter hits a plastic puck (called a Hornuss) with a flexible stick (which nowadays is made of carbon fibre), launching it in the direction of the opponents’ field. As in baseball, the opposing team’s interceptors try to stop the Hornuss before it touches the ground, launching it back into the opposing field with wooden shovels. It is also a game that entails certain risks: the puck reaches speeds of up to 300/350 km per hour, so the interceptors have to protect their head and body and often wear eye-catching protective gear.
Construction of the installations began in May 2019 and involve around 300 people, including Federal Army and civil protection personnel, as well as technicians from Nüssli AG (a company specialising in the construction of temporary structures for events), which will also provide technical support during the event and the subsequent dismantling and environmental restoration of the entire area. Supporting this small army of builders is a fleet of DIECI Construction Range and Agricultural Range vehicles, which are supplied once again by ARBOR AG of Boll, DIECI Dealer for Switzerland.
Numerous Mini Agri, Pegasus, Agriplus and Icarus vehicles, plus numerous other models in the two ranges, have been working alternating shifts (and will continue to do so) during the various stages of construction. They include removing thousands of cubic metres of humus (which will be brought back onsite at the end of the event); ground levelling and installing drainage pipes; shifting around 3000 tonnes of material and 18,000 cubic metres of gravel; transporting lifting and installing around 300,000 individual, pre-assembled parts; and subsequently dismantling the structures (which will keep the vehicles busy again throughout September 2019), to restore the area back to its original agricultural use. The works are so complex and vast that 90-minute guided tours around the construction site have been organised, with visitor numbers strictly limited! These tours provide an excellent opportunity to see a variety of DIECI models all at work.