As the weather was great on Sunday, we headed to St.Gallen, an hour's train ride east of Zurich for the "OLMA Messen" a big agricultural fair.
This wasn't because I was looking to take my balcony veg growing to the next level (If Zoë sees another pumpkin plant she'll probably end me), but for two other great passions of mine – food and also sport, though not an event I'd seen before...
The OLMA fair offers everything from food stalls and beer tasting to the sale of power washing equipment and livestock. First up, we had a try of the local bratwurst, which is famous as it's allegedly so good that having condiments with it is a crime. Well, it was pretty good, but I think it's a bit pompous to say it wouldn't benefit from a bit of mustard. I don't thing adding a blob of "senf" should be frowned upon. Most things are better with sauce, right?
Having now made that statement, I'm probably no longer welcome in St.Gallen, so it's a good job we made the most of our day there. We tasted cheese after cheese, bought a bag of cheese and even said "cheese" as we posed for photos with cows.
There were lively beer and wine areas and I grabbed myself a can of Schutzengarten, the local brew, in anticipation of the day's main event: Schweinerennen.
Yes, that's right. Pig racing!
This turned out to be a serious sport. Serious fun that is. As the sun shone, a little man with cows on his belt buckles got the crowd fired up to welcome the racing piglets - a loud enough cheer, he said, would turn the racing pigs into fighting pigs! A small child next to us looked a bit worried about this and stopped cheering.
Herr Horse Belt also promised the event was to be "Speck-tacular" (Speck being German for bacon - get it?). I hoped the pigs didn't understand that gag, I thought it might put them off. And we had five francs on a pig in each race.
Then it all kicked off! Status quo started playing, hands started clapping and pigs began squealing with excitement as they were led to the starting gates. Talk about dramatic.
With five francs on the piglet in a black and white racing bib, we watched with bated breath as they raced to the course's jump. It turns out, when faced with a hurdle, pigs will fly!
Unfortunately the pig we backed didn't fly as far as we might have hoped and was pipped to victory on the home straight. There was always race 2...
But then, disaster! The pig we went for in that round stumbled at the fence and didn't win either. Pig sick I was.
Actually, even two losses on the trot (should that be trotters?) couldn't dampen our spirits. We went home having had a great experience, with full bellies and giant bag of cheese. We didn't win on the races, but we certainly pigged out!
Enjoy the pics!
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.