Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
The tradition of the shepherd's run and shepherd's trade market in Markgröningen, Bad Urach and Wildberg
Since the 14th century, the tradition of the shepherd's run and shepherd's trade market is practiced in three cities of today's Baden-Wuerttemberg. In the guise of a playful competition, the tradition contributes to the preservation of specific knowledge only shepherds possess.
Facts & figures
Crucial date: 24th of August, Day of Bartholomew
Domains: Social customs, rituals and festivals; knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe; performing arts; traditional craftsmanship
Where to find: Markgröningen, Bad Urach und Wildber in Baden-Württemberg
The tradition of shepherd runs is likely to date back to the 14th century. Even today, it is vibrant in the cities of Markgröningen, Bad Urach and Wildberg which belong to today's federal state Baden-Wuerttemberg. The starting point of this festive tradition is the guild order of the shepherds from 1651. Key element of the tradition are the classic shepherd's run as well as various other games of chance.
Ever since one can remember, shepherds have been competing against each other. The shepherd’s run gives utterance to such competitive manners, however, animated by comical intentions. Concerning the respective geographical area, sheep farming is still of significant importance. While in the past the wool industry and the butcher trade had priority, the wool industry declined considerably due to cheaper cotton production no one was able to compete with.
Today, apart from meat production, the central idea is to preserve historically grown cultural landscapes and nature conservation. The geological structure of the landscapes around Markgröningen, Bad Urach and Wildberg is dependent on the careful, sustainable care of the landscape by sheep; this very reason has led to the fact that the shepherd’s trade has maintained grand appreciation.
During the festivities, markets offer many sheep products. Their proceeds are donated to a sheep conservation fund aimed at supporting the cities’ shepherds. Additionally, those markets provide the opportunity to get to know techniques and knowledge related to sheep farming. Due to diverse possibilities of participation by the local population, whether during the pageant or at the performance of festivals, the tradition of the shepherd’s run create a sense of togetherness and shared identity. Above all, the heterogeneous composition of participating groups enables young people to gain an insight into a craft they can barely encounter in their everyday lives.