David Rudigier, who everyone just calls Dave, is 30 and has been a member of Kappl’s Krampus Club for more than half his life. As the club chair, he heads one of Europe’s largest Krampus gatherings each year. He speaks to Trisanna about holding on to traditions, what a club brings to a village, and the big challenge he faces anew each year. 

David, you’re a real Kappler – but now you’ve actually moved away. Why?
I emigrated, so to say, a year ago. I always wanted to buy a house, and the house prices in the valley don’t make it very easy – so I made a detour to Strengen. And it’s not really very far away.
Only about 20 kilometres.  
I’m very attached to my hometown. I wouldn’t have wanted to move very much further away. I couldn’t be without the mountains.  

You’ve been a member of the Krampus Club in your home town for 16 years, and the chairman for eleven years of that. Does your hometown also somehow mean tradition?
For me, it does. There’s always been this tradition ever since I can remember. I went from house to house with neighbours and friends even as a small child. We drove out the winter and gave children rewards or warnings.  

Krampus processions don’t always have the very best of reputations. How do you deal with that?
In our town, it’s been organized by a club for the past 20 years or so. So there’s always been someone who’s responsible. I think that’s helped to take away the fear that some people have. But you do have to remember that what we do is a show procession, where there’s no place for violence.

Were you ever scared as a child?
(laughs) No, because I always went with them as a child. With a rubber mask back then. And then you get more into it – and at some point, you buy a proper mask.

How important are clubs for a village community?
I think they’re really important. The village comes together through clubs like ours, there are activities, things happen. And that’s essential in the countryside. And quite often there’s also a charitable purpose behind club events.

Such as?
We put on a pretty big party each year – the Krampus Gathering in Kappl, where 18 Krampus groups from across Europe come together and perform their shows. Around 1 000 people come every year – and last year we bought a special lift for the care home with the profit we made. I think it’s great that everyone gets something out of it in the end.