February 21, 2018

Fabulous Friday: Discovering a Unique Festival in Germany

Markgroningen Germany is home to a very unusual festival.  The Schäferlauf (“Shepherds’ Race”) is held during late August in this small town located a little north of Stuttgart.

Markgroeningen Town Gate Germany

Town Gate

Late in August Shepherds from all over Baden-Wurttemberg and beyond descend on this tiny village to take part in this festival that has roots back to at least 1445.  Back in the day, the Shepherds Guild held its annual meeting here where they would hold court, resolve conflicts and free apprentices.

Today this festival is a little more fun!

To start off the weekend, festival goers can enjoy a sheep herding contest which covers all aspects of herding sheep.

Shepherds Run Markgroeningen Germany

Shepherds Run

The actual Shepherds’ Race takes place on Saturday.  Dressed in traditional clothing, daughters of shepherds’ race 240 meters across a field of stubble towards the finish line.  Next up are the boys.  Each winner receives a sheep (of course!)  and is crowned Shepherd Queen and Shepherd King.  This royal couple then holds court over a dance in their honor that night.

Sunday, adults and children can enjoy racing as well as many other fun activities and events – stilt-walking anyone?

Markgroningen Germany

Markgröningen by dierk schaefer, on Flickr

During the weekend there are colorful processions, music, traditional games and lots of local crafts.  The weekend is usually closed by a colorful display of fireworks.


Have you been to the Shepherds’ Race?

What unique festivals have you been to or heard about?

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  3. lark bambl says:

    Oh, thanks for the info….and we have been to Stuttgart and may go there again. However, I am looking for the
    name of a small village in southeast Bavaria that has a sheep festival. We were visiting Haunkenzell when we
    heard about it….anyone been there or heard about it? Lark

  4. lark bambl says:

    I am trying to find out when and where the sheep festival is in Bavaria, Germany.
    Does anyone know anything about that? Lark

  5. Wow, what an old festival! The weirdest one I saw was the Sauerkraut Festival in Vermont. I saw the sign as I was driving through, but it wasn’t taking place for another two weeks, by which time I was already gone. I can only imagine the festivities!
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..I see dead people in Los Angeles

  6. Seriously – all you have to do to win is dress up and be the fastest? Where do I enter into this? Would they ship a sheep to my house if I won? 🙂
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Travel confessions

  7. Sabrina says:

    How fun 🙂 I can’t believe they still do that type of stuff 🙂 But I guess it’s close enough to the countryside, so that people would actually know what to do with a sheep if they ended up winning one.
    Sabrina recently posted..Only in Texas- A Chicken Fried Steak Festival

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I sure hope they know what to do with a sheep or you might find it on ebay or craigslist 🙂

  8. Laurel says:

    This looks like so much fun and is so close to where I live, but I’ll be in Canada on my honeymoon at that time. Will have to catch it next year!
    Laurel recently posted..Capture the Essence of a City in Germany- In One Photo

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I really think this would be fun to experience to! These types of festivals are a great way to soak up some of the local culture.

  9. Arti says:

    This looks very different and fun festival too! Never heard of it! The dazzling display of fireworks and other colorful activities must surely be a treat to the eyes!
    Arti recently posted..Hurray100 posts completed!

  10. Gotta love an event where the winner takes home a sheep 🙂

    My favorite festival in Germany is Oktoberfest. I think it is unique to dress up in dirndls and leiderhosen and dance around and drink ginormous steins of beer. Truly one of my greatest memories.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..How to Live Like a Porteño

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Yes indeed the prize is spectacular!

      I haven’t been to Oktoberfest yet but would love to see that barrel roll down the street. Will definitely make it one of these years 🙂

  11. The Europeans are especially good at keeping their traditions alive. The first photo looks like a scene out of “Chariots of Fire”!!
    John in France recently posted..Gardens in Paris- Part 3

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      They really seem to be much better at keeping their traditions alive. That is part of what endears Europe to me!

  12. Christina says:

    How peculiar! I’ve never heard of that one before. One day I should be a tourist in my home country for a change…
    Christina recently posted..Discovering Vancouver- Coal Harbour waterfront walkway

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      HA HA It is so true that we don’t really explore our own country. I would probably be the worst person to ask for advice on things to do in San Francisco for that same reason! Now that the children have flown the coop, we are venturing out and exploring our environs more 🙂

  13. fesbuk says:

    I love reading your pieces on Europe. What a fun festival. That is a beautiful building. Seeing these photos brings back such great memories of living in Germany.

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      This festival does look like a great way to learn about the culture of this region!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  14. I think Germany has some of the most peculiar festivals around. How about the finger wrestlig one in Bayern. Not to mention all the weird ones in Berlin 🙂

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Yes, finger wrestling is a bit different. I would enjoy attending some of these festivals in the villages though.

  15. Really awesome fun and frolic activity..
    Surender Sharma recently posted..Top 5 Summer Tourist Destinations in India

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      That is a great way to put it! Fun and frolic seems to be had by all.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  16. I want to try to herd sheep!

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I’m sure they would let you give it a go. Who knows it might be fun and you might have a hidden talent in herding sheep!

  17. Lisa says:

    I love reading your pieces on Europe. What a fun festival. That is a beautiful building. Seeing these photos brings back such great memories of living in Germany.
    Lisa recently posted..Joy in Every Day

  18. Katherina says:

    What a fun festival! I lived for two years south of Stuttgart (while I was a student, so I wasn’t around during august)… and had never heard about it before… I would have loved to go!
    Here in Switzerland, there’s a “cow fight” festival (not bulls, but cows!) and people train their cows all year around for it. It’s not aggressive – the first cow that turns away, looses!
    Katherina recently posted..Photo Essay- The Swiss Riviera Vevey

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Ok the cow fight really sounds fun! I think it would be a great trip roaming around focusing on all the different festivals.


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