Schueberfouer does not mean “Sheep Fair”

So “fouer” pretty clearly means “fair” in Luxembourgish. I was under the impression that “Schueber” was related to the word “sheep” for a while, because the opening ceremonies feature sheep. Please don’t tell my Luxembourgish instructor that I was so far off the mark — sheep is “Schof” in Luxembourgish.

After two years of regular attendance of the fair, I was ready to see the opening ceremony for myself.

Nine minutes before the scheduled start, the entrance to the fair was quiet, but it didn’t take long for a surprisingly large crowd to assemble. They filled the space around the entrance to the fair, except for a small area, cordoned off.

Many people recognized one another and began animated conversations, which is typical of the Schueberfouer.

There was a growing anxiety in the crowd as the cameramen and journalists pressed forward.

A group of politicians began assembling inside the cordon, joking among themselves and scanning the crowd. Some time passed, and a woman offered a shot of some golden scissors to the press. They did not seem especially impressed.

The crowd pressed in further. Quite a few people stopped by and shortly moved on, but more surprising were the number that stayed — given that most of them really couldn’t see anything beyond the backs of the cameramen.

Just a minute or two after five o’clock, a tall man in a resplendent jacket moved through the crowd to the center of things. He was Paul Helminger, Mayor of Luxembourg-Ville. He bantered with the multitude, smiled a lot, and posed for lots of photos. He cut the ribbon into about a dozen pieces, handing out the slices to his fellow luminaries.

Once the scissors were sheathed, the media descended and the interviews began. But where were the sheep?

I moved outside the crowd, scanning for ungulates. About half the crowd moved to the nearby beer stand.

The other half seemed to have turned 180 degrees, facing down the midway. Still no sheep in evidence, but this was a clue!

Now that the politicians were dispersed, perhaps the crowd turned to the sheep for amusement. Driven by my goal — to see some of the famous Schueberfouer sheep — I surveyed the possible routes to head off the parade.

On a path parallel to the midway, I weaved through the oncoming pack of thrill-seekers. Screams from the fair’s machines echoed off the restaurant’s glass walls as I scanned for a way to cut back in front of the procession.

I deliberately overshot my target and headed back down the midway. There were a few people milling around, but nothing like what I expected — a wave of Luxembourgers driven ahead of a herd of sheep.

I rounded a small bend to find my wool-bearing quarry.

I was not impressed. Neither were the band members who appeared to have lost interest in the proceedings.

Seriously, friends — I could have walked off with those five sheep.

Oh, there was still a crowd walking along the midway, about 50 feet behind the sheep. Politicians gave peripatetic interviews, and random fair-goers seemed content to walk along with them.

Sometimes, events in Luxembourg exceed my expectations. This one remains a mystery to me, not quite living up to the glowing descriptions I read in the local papers.

Nevertheless, the fair itself needs no hype. Do you like to be flipped upside down and flung around at a purported 5 G’s? As you like.

Would you like a dose of the best of American culture while you are tossed hither and thither? First, answer me this: Do you think those posters are product placement, or is the Fun Fair paying licensing fees to the UFC?

Who cares, when you can stop by the Kir Royal stand anytime, day or night?

My favorite Schueberfouer pastime is finding a seat in a beer garden that faces the fun and games, and then having a procession of tasty little glasses of beer brought to me.

6 Comments to “Schueberfouer does not mean “Sheep Fair””

  1. Amanda said...
    23 August 2011

    Horrors! I thought “schueber” was related to sheep, too!

    That said, I got to pet the sheep last year. And one peed vigorously, splashing many of us. This is Top Drawer Excitement, mon ami.

    Looking forward to getting to the fair ourselves this week. I think I’ll take your recommendation and hang out in the beer garden!

  2. Dave said...
    23 August 2011

    I’ll be watching the commercials during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to see if they’re advertising UFC Luxembourg.

  3. Laurie said...
    24 August 2011

    Is Anita itching to get into one of the carney carts to sell some roasted corn dipped in a vat o’ butter? Roasted corn dipped in a vat of butter is the mark of a truly good fair. Not some stinky sheep… :)

  4. Doug said...
    26 August 2011

    If you read your blog entry aloud it sounds like a NPR segment. Did you transcribe this from one of their shows?? :). Glad you are taking it all in. Sounds like a good time.

  5. Lux Lady said...
    2 September 2011

    Okay, you got my interest…I’ve wondered for some time what it meant, nice to see there is a real reason. Essentially it’s a bastardization of the site of the first fair–good you pointed it out, since I don’t even know if most Luxembourgers know this (at least the ones I asked).

    Also in French:
    Le nom « Schueberfouer » fut dérivé du premier lieu, où se tint la foire, la « Schuedbuerg » qui se situa sur le plateau du Saint-Esprit. De la « Schuedbuerg » on en vint à la « Schuedbermiss » et puis à la « Schuebermëss ». D’autres sources pensent qu’il y a un lien avec le terme allemand « Schober » qui désignait autrefois un endroit couvert pour stocker du foin.

  6. Keely said...
    31 August 2012

    Look likes a classic county fair midway. I’ll take a loaded waffle!! Have fun this weekend!!