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Alpabfahrt (Cow Descents from Mountain Pasture)

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Jun 27th, 2014, 08:23 AM
  #1
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Alpabfahrt (Cow Descents from Mountain Pasture)

Ok, I am obsessed with the festival atmosphere of Alpabfahrten, having attended my first one last year in Lenk.
I am travelling to Solothurn late September, and just learned that Schuepfheim has a cow festival on Saturday, September 27-- lucky me!
AND Neuchatel has a grape harvest festival the same weekend...decisions of the best kind!
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Jun 27th, 2014, 08:38 AM
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OK, so what happens at that cow festival (seriously!) because I love animals. Can you touch them or what? I am a sucker for any sort of "petting zoo" situation despite those selfish little goats they usually have who only want food! I was actually in a place once where they had reindeer and it was hard to tear myself away!
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Jun 27th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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The one in Lenk last year had a few small stalls set up in the town square with baby calves, baby goats, piglets and bunnies for petting. Yes, I had to fight the kids to get my hands on them. I, too, am a sucker for animals! The actual goats and cows in the procession are not meant to be petted.
Don't know if they all have a similar set-up.
But the cows wear ELABORATE floral headdresses and huge bells around their necks, herded by men and women in typical folk suits and dresses. Often, there is a stage for judging best cow of the year. Regional products like jams, cheeses, honey and baked goods for sale are set up in stalls ringing the area. I can't wait!
And oompah music!
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Jun 27th, 2014, 09:14 AM
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mokka4 & Dukey1, two years ago, September, we rented an apartment in Nesselwang, Germany and made the Viehscheid circuit for a week, it was a blast. Viehscheid is the German counterpart of Alpabfart, I think. We visited at least 6 or 7 towns during their Viehscheid and each was a little different. but seeing the cows come from pasture decked in flowers and greenery while many people were in native dress was such fun. We named this adventure "Til the cows come home". A few towns had markets set up, all had the huge beer tents with oompah bands, good food and of course bier! It was so festive, we had a great time sitting at the long picnic type tables making a sad attempt at being a local. Most are in very small towns and it seems nearly everyone turns out.

Here's a website to get you in the mood. If you google Viehscheid in Bavaria you'll find lots of info and closer to the dates the towns will post how many cows will be coming down from pasture.

http://www.bavaria.us/almabtrieb-vie...aria-all-dates

And yes Dukey1, once the cows do their promenade thru town they're taken to fenced pastures and you can pet them! One town had a parade thru town to the fairgrounds and as the cows passed the parade grew longer with everyone joining in and following.

Just reading this makes me long to return.

And you're right mokka4, Alpabfart and a wine festival, sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Susan
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Jun 27th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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I don't think you would want to be petting random milk cows. They're enormous and often not especially friendly.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 10:46 AM
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Most of the cattle in the fenced holding area were tethered and not too happy about it with head-shaking and loud mooing. But a few were clearly more docile and used to handling. They allowed a little stroking about the head and ears ��.
Did I mention the fresh coating of first snow on a glorious October day? Someday, I'll get my fav pics posted.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:41 PM
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Nytraveler, I appreciate your thinking of my welfare and safety. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 07:44 PM
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It's especially fun when they decide to step on your foot with their full weight.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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I went to a moo-ving of the cows in Kerns (between Brienz and Luzern) on Oct 1, 2011.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 02:08 PM
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They've made these into tourist events but that's fine. Most farmers don't know until a few weeks ahead of time when they'll be bringing the cows back down. It all depends on the weather and the grass conditions.

However, these events are becoming more popular and it really is a great way to become part of Switzerland's tradition of the "alpfahrt".
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Jun 28th, 2014, 06:56 PM
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We were in Garmisch MANY years ago when cows were being moved from one area to another - through the center of the town. Some teen boys were walking ahead of the herd and warned anyone in the street to either go inside or stand in a doorway.

This was NOT a running of the bulls - they were clearly milk cows but they filled the very narrow street and both narrow sidewalks and were intent on following the head cow (sorry don't know the correct term) back to their barn from wherever they were. And if we had been in the way they probably would have just brushed us aside - but since they weigh about 10 times as much - not fun.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 07:45 PM
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<< However, these events are becoming more popular and it really is a great way to become part of Switzerland's tradition of the "alpfahrt". >>

Yes, you're correct and it was a fun day! Live music and food vendors on the streets throughout the town. Cute, little kids (both the animal and human kind!) walking with the cows. All the animals decorated to the "nines". .Really enjoyed that day.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 12:20 AM
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Solothurn is pretty close to us, so perhaps we will take in the event at the village near there (weather and other plans depending). Thanks for the tip!
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Jul 1st, 2014, 04:07 PM
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WT: found out that Charmey is also having Desalpe on Saturday, September 27!
Might that be closer to you?
AND, an Alpenhorn Konzert in Gruyeres the same date!
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Jul 1st, 2014, 04:12 PM
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And deeper digging: a Schafscheid in Jaun on Monday, September 22 (Herdsman/Sheep festival) for those interested in these folk festivals. I'll next have to investigate which are most easily reached with public transport!
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