Photography

Photos from an Annual Dutch Festival Where People Try to Tear the Head off a Dead Goose

The first person to achieve that is crowned Goose King for a year.

av Maarten Delobel
2017 03 07, 10:15pm

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 towards 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 organisations and other animal lovers have been protesting the custom. Several Dutch organisations 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.