Hochheim Market then & now
Interesting facts on the history of the Hochheim Market
Beginnings of the Hochheim Markets
In 1484 Hochheim am Main was granted the privilege by emperor Friedrich III. to hold annual fairs, of which only the market in autumn has survived until today. In addition, the originally earlier date was changed to the first Saturday after All Souls’ Day, considering that only then vintage and works at the wine cellar would be completed. Hochheim Market originally served the rural population, i.e. the majority, to market their harvest. This is why the market days were marked by the parade of cattle and horse traders and the special auction of barrel wine, the „Gabelung“ (forking). At first the wine quality in all barrels was tasted. Whoever wanted to bid on the best barrel, also had to take the worst. For the second best, the second worst was added. And this went on, until all barrels were marketed. This way it was ensured that no one would be stuck with the harvest due to bad quality which sometimes was inevitable owing to natural influences. On the other hand, the incentive was missing to really improve the wines’ quality. Finally, this system was abandoned.
Today’s Hochheim Market - conscious in tradition, modern, and cross-generational
Nowadays, Hochheim Market has developed to a mix of market, fun fair, and cattle market with an exhibition of agricultural machinery and shows, performances, and awards for horse, cattle, sheep and goat breeding.
On Monday morning, following an old tradition, the parade to the cattle market area takes place. Horses, ponies, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and fowl are offered by the merchants. Official veterinarians watch over the compliance with rules regarding animal diseases and animal welfare.
The market stretches over an area of approx. 65,000 m² on the open area Am Weiher. The event starts on Friday and finishes on Tuesday with the fireworks. Up to 600,000 visitors come to Hochheim on the market days every year.
This great number of visitors requires extensive organizational measures. The whole city is blocked for transit. Outside the town spacious parking areas are set up on open fields, country roads are turned into parking spaces on one side, shuttle buses take visitors from and to the market area, if they do not, as according to old tradition, seek the area at the Weiher on foot. Another tradition are the difficulties that result from the rainy weather at this time of the year. In order to make the territory accessible, extensive immediate measures are necessary nearly every year. For instance, in 2009 on only one market day about 40 cubic meters of bark mulch had to be spread to maintain the territory safe to walk on.
Source: Wiesbadener Kurier of 10 November 2009: Tonnen von Rindenmulch gegen den Matsch (Memento vom 2. Dezember 2009 im Internet Archive)