A Schützenfest (German: marksmen’s festival) is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland.
At a Schützenfest, contestants compete based on their shooting abilities, for example by shooting at a wooden representation of an eagle. The winner of the competition becomes the Schützenkönig (“king of marksmen”) until the next year’s competition.
Schützenfests are celebrated mainly in Bavaria and Lower Saxony, but also in the Lower Rhine and Middle Rhine regions as well as in Westphalia (especially the Sauerland), with festive processions. Since German Reunification, Schützenfests have begun to emerge in eastern parts of Germany as well. The traditions connected to the Schützenfest can vary greatly from one region to another in Germany.
The commercially-organized Schützenfest of Hanover, Germany, is the largest marksmen’s funfair in the world with more than 5,000 marksmen, 250 rides and inns, 5 large beer tents and the “Marksmen’s Parade”. The parade with more than 10,000 participants from Germany and all over the world and more than 100 bands is 12 kilometres long. It is the longest parade in the world. The landmark of the funfair is one of the highest transportable Ferris wheels in the world. It is 60 metres high and can transport 420 people in 42 cabins.
These traditions include the “Blow of the Flag” (a particular way of waving a flag). The Blow of the Flag in particular, as well as the waving of the flag in general are executed according to fixed rules. Competitions are held in the discipline of flag waving.
Schützenfests may range from one day to several days and may include and be accompanied by various events. They often take place in the festival room of a local public house or in a pavilion especially erected for the occasion. In the Sauerland, many towns have a special Marksmen’s Hall that is used for these festivities. Many Schützenfests start with a festive procession, whereby the reigning King of Marksmen, along with the royal household, plus local dignitaries, are all escorted by the marksmen and paraded to the festive square or the festivities. This is often followed by a “royal parade” where the marksmen march past the king and the royal court, with marching bands, Corps of Drums and fanfare.
This year’s Schützenfest in Göttingen was hold yesterday on July 16th, and here’s some of the pictures of the fest. Enjoy!