When the nights start to turn colder, the forests show off their beautiful colours and the cattle come down from the alpine pastures, then the fifth season begins in the Salzburger Sportwelt.
Every year since 1996 everything in our region from August until the beginning of November revolves around Harvest Festival. This time of year is characterised by traditional farming festivals, where ancient handicrafts, home-made produce and regional costumes such as Austrian leather trousers and dirndl dresses are presented. The main event, the “Almabtrieb” (herding the cattle down from the alpine pastures) in Filzmoos ensures lots of excitement amongst guests and locals alike
Such events require a wealth of preparation. Let’s take a look behind the scenes…
To start with the Tourist Board produces advertising material, to attract guests and spectators and let them know what’s happening in the resort. Plus a number of meetings and discussions are necessary to agree on details such as the programme of events, music and catering. When the brochures are printed, then they have to be distributed to the surrounding businesses, whereby the head farmers’ wife in the village, Trixi, is a great help. But that alone is not enough – all information online has to be up-to-date too (http://www.filzmoos.at/de/sommer/bauernherbst.html) – as advertising is the is be and end of all of events!
As the event itself draws closer, we also put advents in the local newspapers, to remind everyone what’s on. The most important advertising, however, comes from the enthusiastic spectators themselves, who go back home and tell all their friends and relatives about the “Almabtrieb” cattle procession in Filzmoos.
The final spurt!
In the days leading up to herding the cattle down the farmers and the alpine dairy farmers are extremely busy, as the animals are always festively decorated to give thanks for a good alpine summer, that means a headdress decorated with evergreen and alpine flowers, interwoven with ribbons, holy pictures and motto boards sewn with quill embroidery. “Many of these motto boards and holy pictures were used in my childhood. In olden days we had to herd the cattle back down to our farm in a cloak and dagger operation as their “gifts” they left behind along the way, weren’t too popular. It wasn’t until the 90’s that the “Almabtrieb” procession became an event, attracting a wealth of spectators”, the old dairywoman tells me, whilst retrieving the dusty boards from the storeroom.
A whole week’s preparation time is required before the farmer and his helpers can start binding the bushels. Branches and flowers are collected in the forest to bind beautiful head decorations. In addition to their headdress the animals also receive a small or large bell hung around their neck, according to their ranking within the herd. Plus there are festival carts and carriages to organise – and don’t forget the animals have to be cleaned up too!
Tip: For all those who would like to be present when the animals are decorated, there’s a special “Almabtrieb” hike of two different difficulty levels. So we can first observe the preparations at the alpine hut and afterwards head back to Filzmoos in time to see the procession through the village. (Book with “Filzmoos Aktiv“, Tel. 0043 664 17 18 483)
The spotlight during the “Almabtrieb” is of course on the animals, yet the culinary aspect should also not be disregarded. At the “Almabtrieb” festival the farmers pull out all the stops and that all needs to be well-prepared. Together with the local restauranteurs the Filzmoos farmers’ wives special regional delicacies. Starting with sweet “Germkrapfen“ (yeast fritters), farmer’s cakes to savoury meat fritters – there’s something for everyone. My personal favourites by a long shot are the plum jam doughnuts (see recipe at the end of the page)!
For all those wishing to take home a souvenir of the “Almabtrieb“ procession, there’s a small farmers‘ market offering a range of regional produce and handicrafts. From home-made produce such as jams, honey, cheese or bacon to small wooden figures or cushions filled with pine wood chippings.
The day of the “Almabtrieb“ is finally here…
On my way to work at the Tourist Office I notice that nearly the whole resort is busy with the preparations for the Filzmoos “Almabtrieb“ – even at this early hour in the morning there’s lots going on. The council workers, Hannes and Hannes, are responsible for erecting barriers, so the animals don’t stray from the path. In the village square the hard-working helpers are preparing the party tent for serving food and drink and the musicians too are setting up their instruments. The voluntary Fire Brigade, under the command of Flo Vierthaler are giving the first visitors directions for parking. Now it’s time to get a move on, as before the spectators arrive there has to be a sound check and at 11.30 am the “Almabtrieb” festival begins with music from the popular Filzmooser Tanzlmusi.
So around 1.00 pm it’s finally time! The cattle are getting nearer to the village centre. Spectators and guests can hardly wait for the procession to start – you can really feel the anticipation in the air. The clipping of the hooves can be heard in the distance and here they come! The procession is led by the Filzmoos Whipcrackers on beautifully decorated horses. Gottfried Schörghofer, owner of the Pizzeria Pinocchio and traditional speaker at diverse events in Filzmoos tells the visitors interesting information about alpine traditions and customs, as well as about the farms, whose animals are taking part today. It’s a real experience, to see everything close up. And an absolute must after a successful procession – is a refreshment stop in the jolly party tent. There you can try out the tasty delicacies made by the Filzmoos farmer’s wives and learn a bit more about life as an alpine farmer.
The day after…
Even after the “Almabtrieb” it’s not all over. The streets have to be cleaned and the party tent taken down again. But with lots of energetic helpers it’s all done very quickly.
And soon we’ll start all over again… We here at the Tourist Office are already looking forward to next year and would like to thank all helpers who made this event possible.
Plum dougnuts (recipe for 4 dougnuts)
8 slices White bread
50-100 g Plum / damson jam
0,25 l Milk
1 pich Vanilla sugar
Lard for deep-frying
Icing sugar for sprinkling on the top
Spread jam on one side of the slices of white bread and stick two together. Mix the milk, eggs and vanilla sugar well. Heat up the lard in the pan. Dip the slices of bread briefly in the milk/egg mixture (they shouldn’t get soggy) and deep-fry them in the hot lard until golden-brown. Dry off with kitchen roll and serve with icing sugar sprinkled over the top.
The doughnuts can be individually refined, if you put a shot of run in the milk or mix the icing sugar with cinnamon.
Good luck! -> And don’t forget to think about your holiday when you’re savouring the tasty doughnuts, then they taste twice as good!
Photo credits: Tourist information Filzmoos