Who ever experienced a Cattle drive (Viehscheid), knows what I am talking about: a festive decorated village, Bavarian brass bands, Trachten and cheese. Right, cheese.
What might look like an average Bierfest for the one who doesn t know, in fact is century old tradition: the village celebrates the homecoming of the herds- and dairymen, who spent the whole summer with the herd in the mountains. One expect their husband/son/brother, the other the healthy return of their cows, but all together wait for the fresh cheese, which was produced during the summer in the mountains.
Last year I went to watch the spectacle and placed myself with the camera right at the street. The first part of the parade was like I expected: flower decorated cows and handsome men in letherpants walked along the village street, direction fairground. Then a break and a undefined roaring noise, people steped back to give way – the stampede arrived, the herdsmen almost lost control and only tried to direct the running herd to the fairground. I wasn t able to think about settings for my camera, I just pressed the button – no risk for a photo! At least the pictures later on the fair ground turned out well.
There I got the explaination for what I experienced: the cattle leaves the mountain alm at 5 am and already made a long way, until it arrives at the valley. The more experienced cows know about the juicy, green meadow, that is waiting for them at the fair ground and since the mountain meadows were kind of meager at the end of the summer, they are longing for fresh green and just speed up as soon as the village comes close. What for the cattle is the grass, is the beer for the men and so they all together enjoy the break on the fair ground – the mountains in the back are a free gift for us photographer!
The celebration days after are about eating and drinking, traditional meat dishes get prepared and the mountain cheese gets melted with handmade Spatzle, surely paired with a Mass of beer.