Glaube, Sitte, Heimat

Arne Piepke
Every year from May to September, marksmen’s festivals are held in the Sauerland in Germany. The three-day festival consists of Marches through the villages, church processions, as well as dances and honors. The highlight of every festival is a shooting competition on a wooden bird to determine the new annual King. The origin of these clubs goes back to the civil defense in the Middle Ages and their motto “for faith, custom and home” is still written on their flags today. Besides a few exceptions, most of these clubs and brotherhoods have strict rules, do not allow women as members and represent conservative Christian values. The small villages in Germany have a strong community and deep attachment to their home which is mainly shaped by cultivating this tradition and their regional customs. Growing up in one of these small villages and visiting the local marksmen’s festival from childhood on has led me to reflect on my personal experiences with this tradition.

From 2015 on, I visited 31 festivals in order to question the contemporary exercise of the tradition and to examine the theatre like procedure of the fest.