Travel

Check Out This Festival Where People Tear the Head off a Goose

The first person to do so is crowned Goose King for a year.

by Maarten Delobel
Mar 7 2017, 4:36pm

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

Every year in the days before Lent, people in the southern Dutch village of Grevenbicht hold a competition in which they rip the head off a dead goose. The goose is hung high on a track, and competitors get on a horse, ride toward the dead bird, and then try to decapitate it with their bare hands—in passing and without slowing down. Before it's hung there, the goose's neck is buttered up, to make getting a grip even more challenging. The first guy to manage to tear off its head is crowned that year's Goose King.

This tradition isn't unique for Grevenbicht or even the Netherlands—it happens in towns in Germany, Spain, France, and Belgium too. But using real geese for it has become very rare in recent years. Unsurprisingly, animal rights organizations and other animal lovers have been protesting the custom. Several Dutch organizations have actively tried to ban the event in Grevenbicht since the early 80s, so far without any success.

Photographer Maarten Delobel went to Grevenbricht last week to witness the festival for himself.