When the cows return to the valley

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5 minutes

“Viehscheid” cattle drives in Oberstdorf and Schöllang

Celebrations to end the summer in the pastures. The cattle drives on 12 / 09 and 13 / 09 are a long-standing tradition.

When the grazing period comes to an end in September and nothing bad has happened to any of the animals, it’s time for the Oberstdorf and Schöllang Viehscheid days. These tradition-steeped cattle drives mark the end of the summer in the Alpine pastures. Followed by his herd, the farmer leaves the pasture with his leading cow (known as the “Kranzrind”). This is the finest cow in the herd, which is adorned with a magnificent crown made from twigs, flowers and ribbons. As the cows wind their way down into the valley, their bells ring out for miles around – much to the delight of all locals and guests. The word “Viehschied” indicates that the cattle (“Vieh”) are separated (“geschieden”) in a large square. Each cow returns to its owner and its stall. This unique event is accompanied by an impressive community festival with brass band music, hearty traditional dishes and superb Allgäu beer. Oberstdorf’s crown maker, Jule Schleich, is one of the few crown makers to still use traditional methods to create the headdresses worn by the finest cow in each pasture during the end-of-season cattle drive. The mirrors integrated into the headdress are said to ward off evil spirits from along the wayside during the procession. The lead cow is always pre-selected up on the pasture on the basis of certain beauty ideals. However, only if all the cattle on a pasture have been free from illness, falls or other strokes of bad luck throughout the entire summer can this decorated lead cow be led to the herd separation point by the farmer. The Oberstdorf Viehscheid takes place annually on 13 September, unless this falls on a Sunday, in which case it is postponed by a day. The animals in the district of Schöllang usually return from the Alpine pastures on 12 September, subject to the same Sunday rule as above.

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