All the fun of the Whitsun fair

Every Whitsun our little town holds its Schützen und Heimatfest. The Schützen are the societies of local militias, who in former times would have protected the village from marauding invaders. These days they shoot for sport and drink a lot. And dress up in uniforms which frankly make some tin-pot dictators look rather modest. In these parts, a man’s worth depends on the amount of brocade on his jacket and the size of the shaving brush on his hat, you see.

Like in all good militias, our local ones all bestow copious ranks and titles on their members. During the festival, every house has flags, banners, crepe-paper flowers and bunting on display in the colours of their own militia group. The officers also display their ranks outside their homes.

The local car park has been transformed into a fairground for the weekend.

Depending on which group of Schützen you belong to you can end up pulling the chicks…

…or finding other fish to fry…

Speaking of Fish and Chips… we always have the local version at the Whitsun Fair. The only thing we have to bring along ourselves is the Sarsons Malt Vinegar… which we transport in a miniature whisky bottle. The locals do look at us a bit oddly when we appear to douse our chips in whisky, but they normally just put it down to British eccentricity.

While the kids go on the rides…

…we old folks pop into the beer tent or have a go on the horse-racing game… (did I say or ? Sorry… I meant and.)

Once it starts to get dark, the scene of the action moves on. The militias emerge from their marquees and parade to the sound of the marching bands across to the local park… followed by all the officers and local dignitaries.

Military insignia and posh frocks are the order of the day… I’ve seen less-decorated Christmas trees…

The fair ends on the Tuesday after Whitsun with a musical firework display in the park.

Big chorus of Oooooooh!! Aaaaaaah!! everyone!

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4 Comments

Filed under About Germany, German festivals, Life in Germany

4 responses to “All the fun of the Whitsun fair

  1. Oh that’s lovely. A lot like out Pfingsten Stadtfest but yours seems more charming.

  2. Susanne

    I don’t think it has anything to do with militia, it’s either the actual military rank of Schütze or hunters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%BCtzen_%28military%29)

    • That’s perfect Susanne – exactly what they are! They are different little independent military groups. Ours are definitely not hunters though – but as the Wiki article says, the integration of Schützen and Jäger was more a South German thing. Ours still have the Schützenschnur and most of the uniforms are green.

      “Over time, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Schützen developed many similarities with the Jäger and eventually began to be grouped together in companies (although still integral within an Infantry battalion or regiment) and/or distinguished by special uniform features. One such feature (often also worn by Jäger and in Austria also) endured in many of the German states, on through the Imperial German Army, the Wehrmacht and continuing right up until the present Bundeswehr. This is known as the Schützenschnur (lit. ‘shooter-cord’) – a braided ‘lanyard’ denoting a marksman and worn slung from the shoulder, across the breast and secured at a tunic button. Often it was green, and also embellished by being terminated with tassels, pompoms or ‘acorns’.”

  3. LOL…well, in the end to me, it was always just a country bumpkin assembly of people living in small villages were there was really nothing much else to do for you men than shoot guns. And as for your recent post, I was born and raised in Köln 🙂

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