Fischland-Darß-Zingst - Wieck a. Darß

Traditional Barrel-Beating - also known as Barrel Festival

Barrel Festival In many locales along the coast, Barrel Festivals - an old custom - take place.  It’s a competition that’s usually carried out on horseback.  Participants will ride under the hanging barrel, decked out with ribbons and leaves, knocking out the bottom of the barrel, the indivdual staves, and the top, with a wooden club-like stick.  Contestants compete for the title of Bottom, Stave, and Lid King - a title they will carry until the next Barrel Festival.

The Bottom King is the rider who knocks out the last piece of the bottom of the barrel.  The rider that manages to knock out the last stave is named Stave King.  The last piece of the hanging barrel is the lid - which has been reinforced by a wooden cross.  The rider that knocks out the last piece of the lid is crowned Lid King - the highest title a rider can earn.

In the colder seasons, for instance before the beginning of Lent, the barrel is so prepared that the Barrel-Beating can be ended after only 20 minutes.

These festivals are prepared over some months with a lot of care.  Everything is cleaned, the towns are decordated, the playing field set up with food and drink.  There’s even a parade with musical groups accompanying the riders atop their decorated horses.
On the playing field, spectators follow the competition, cheering the riders on.  At the end, the Barrel, Bottom and Stave kings are crowned. In some places, a Sand king is also named. An exciting day, not only for the riders but also for the guests as well, for all will attend the celebratory closing dance - the Barrel Ball.

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Site: Traditional Barrel-Beating - Fischland-Darss