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.
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.
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?
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?