Cow Fights

Cow Fights

March or April and September or October
Each spring the winner of the cow battles, or Kuhkämpfe, held in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, is crowned Queen Cow of the village herds. A championship tournament is held in September or October in Martigny's amphitheater after the cows are herded down the mountains for the winter ( see Almabtrieb). The cow fights began in the 1920s in Martigny, and today crowds fill the streets for the event. Refreshments of choice include wine and sausages, but no beef. The Queen Cow is adorned with a flower garland between her horns and a large bell hanging from a decorated collar. The calf of a Queen Cow can fetch up to 10 times the price of a regular calf.
The term "cow fights" is a bit misleading, however; as a rule, cows don't often exhibit much aggressive behavior, though their owners do. Much of the event consists of cows standing around, grazing, drooling, or even attempting to step out of the fighting arena. Sometimes, though, some cows can be provoked into pushing another cow, letting loose with some barbarous mooing, or—on momentous occasions—butting heads. A group of animal rights activists from Austria descended on the 1993 Fights, but dropped their protest when they witnessed what actually goes on.
See also Alpaufzug
CONTACTS:
Valais Tourisme
Rue Pre-Fleuri 6
Sion, 1951 Switzerland
41-27-327-3570; fax: 41-27-327-3571
www.valais.ch/en/welcome.cfm
SOURCES:
FestWestEur-1958, p. 228