What comes into your mind when people say “festivals”? Perhaps you think of music festivals such as Tomorrowland and Ultra, or the massive and vibrant Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
But there’s one peculiar festival in Austria that’s recently getting the world’s attention. It involves cows — and it dates back hundreds of years.
The Summer Season in Austria
Summer in Austria starts at the end of June until late September. This period is significant for cattle, the farmers, and the residents in the provinces alike. But why?
This is when farmers in Tirol and other provinces wake up at dawn to prepare for the cows’ journey up the Alps. Even those who are not farmers participate.
But why should the cows go to the Alps? Well, this mountain range becomes the ideal grazing location during the summer season. This is where they can eat and grow with ease.
So how many cows go to the grazing areas up in the mountains? Over a hundred thousand of them go here each year. Farmers have to work together to keep everything in order.
Still, the rewards are bountiful. The cows provide farmers with milk, which is then turned into other dairy products: yogurt, cheese, and bother, to name a few.
Starting the Almabtrieb Tradition
But the summer season isn’t the time of the festival that tourists are waiting for. You see, the almabtrieb or cattle procession happens after the cows graze in the Alps.
Thus, the tourist attraction begins once the cattle move down the mountains, returning to the valleys. The festival happens at the end of September or early October — and there are many ways to enjoy the event.
For one, you can hike up the mountain range and help the farmers guide the cattle. You may also just spectate and follow the cows on their steady journey.
If you don’t want to go up the Alps, you can wait in the valley where the festivities take place. There are joyous, vibrant parades alongside some merry dancing.
Moreover, you won’t run out of food, beer, and other alcoholic drinks. Plus, tourists can go to the nearby markets filled with dairy treats and artisanal items they can bring home.
Why People Celebrate the Return of Cattle
You may be wondering why anyone would spend time, effort, and money to celebrate cows. Well, it’s due to how important cattle are to the villagers in the region.
These cows enable farmers to earn a living. And now, everyone in the villages can earn with how the almabtrieb has become a tourist attraction.
Apart from dairy products, the locals can also sell food and provide accommodation to the tourists. It’s a win-win situation for the animals and humans.
But there’s one important thing to remember: There are no festivities if any accidents occur during the summer grazing season. Thus, the farmers have to do their best to take care of the cows.
The almabtrieb continues to this day because the people value the cattle. They know what the cows bring into their lives, so they tend to them properly.
And this harmony between people and animals is what attracts tourists from all over the world. It proves that humans don’t have to exploit nature to earn more.