The Olma fair in St. Gallen is a highlight in many people's (farmer) calendar. The event usually takes place during ten days in October. Every year, there are many good reasons to be going to the Olma - whether you are a farmer or a parent.
At Olma, you can find everything "agriculture": Animals, locally sourced produce and no less than nine halls' worth of products to buy - ranging from kitchen equipment to textiles.
Most sellers routinely give some form of demonstration of their wares, which is great for those looking to refurbish their house or those who are simply keen to acquiring a new kitchen gadget.
Of course, one hall that deserves its own mention is the food hall. Here, you can try a huge range of local products: Cheese, cold cuts, wine and fruit... you name it!
I would actually advise not eating much beforehand, as the samples alone can serve as a meal! You can really see the Swiss people's passion for quality produce, as this hall is usually teeming with proper foodies (and those after a cheap bite!).
The animals are sure to entertain children. Some of the animals can be pet through the bars, but the petting zoo allows even closer interactions.
Some fun events such as the pig and cow races allow spectators to place bets. Many choose to sit with their kids to simply enjoy the action.
Post race, kids and grown-ups can interact with the racing pigs. Some of the contenders' names are quite comical (see above)...
If you are an adult who perhaps feels a little foolish in the petting zoo without children, you can visit the impressive cattle show in Hall 7. This is where local farmers display their finest livestock.
Visitors are invited to walk down what can only be described as a "cow walk" to observe the farmers' best cows while enjoying some free samples of the freshest milk.
Aside from cows, animal lovers are treated to lambs, piglets and some rare breeds of domestic birds such as the Pomeranian duck.
Each year, Olma hosts a guest canton which receives a special presence throughout the festival. There is a beautiful parade that marches through town with everything from flower decorated cows to whipcrackers.
In 2015, the guest canton is Aargau.
This year, it was truly a delight to not only taste some of Lucerne's special produce in the food hall, but also to see marchers on the parade dressed in lavish Lucerne Fasnacht costumes. The parade music came from Lucerne's own marching bands clad in blue and white.
One aspects of Olma that you can either love or hate is the party surrounding the farming exhibit. Many go to Olma primarily to drink, and each year the complaints rise as many revelers cause trouble in and outside of the festival gates. For those with children, it would be a good idea to bring them earlier in the day. Even better would be midweek, when the crowds are not so heaving.
If you missed Olma this year, keep an eye out for next year's Olma: It will be taking place from Oct 12 to 22, 2017.
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