Donkey Festival in Malbun
At the legendary Donkey Festival in Malbun there are only winners. Yet one question remains: who is the most stubborn – man or beast? A visit to the entertaining popular Malbun festival.
What a stubborn donkey! This assessment is heard from spectators every August, when the legendary Donkey Festival is staged. Stubborn donkey? One may ask: who is the stubborn one – the man who is pulling and pushing and tempting the donkey to complete the course with all (legal) means at his disposal? Or the donkey that doesn’t really see why it should hurry, because it knows that at the end of the day it will be getting plenty of care and attention and a sack of carrots, whatever the outcome. But first things first…
Donkey takes its time
The Organising Committee chaired by Normann Bühler chose a glorious summer day in August 2015 to stage the 19th Donkey Festival. Dark green meadows, bright blue skies and a gentle breeze attracted hundreds of spectators from Liechtenstein and abroad to Malbun to watch the event, overlooked by the Peace Chapel. None of them were to be disappointed: the starting line-up was long, lamas and alpacas were included as starters for the first time. And in stark contrast to conventional competitions, where the decisive criteria are faster, higher and better, what spectators at the Donkey Festival enjoy best is when not everything on the course goes to plan – which is frequently the case. While laymen are wont to describe donkeys as being stubborn and irascible, this is an unfair view of these gentle and intelligent animals. In fact, donkeys simply like to take their time. Their own sweet time. Incidentally: who says everything always has to move faster and exactly according to plan? Why not stop for a moment and ruminate, enjoying the wonderful mountain panorama? Why not nibble on a tuft of grass? Or simply potter along for the fun of it? Quite. By the end of the Festival, fun had been had by nearly everyone: the spectators, who were highly amused by the events of the day. The victor, who completed the course with the donkey Tommy in just 58 seconds. And even the donkey Sorry, who – as befitting his name and the four resolutely refused hurdles – required many times the winning time to complete a total of seven hurdles, and consequently trailed the field by a substantial margin. Yet neither Tommy nor Sorry were much bothered either way. For: there are only winners at the Malbun Donkey Festival, and the same prize for everyone – a large sack full of carrots, and no end of tender loving care.
It’s your own fault if you miss the event
By the way: in addition to the course with hurdles, the Donkey Festival also features a “Donkey Grand Prix”. The winner is the first donkey to complete the course before the watchful eyes and encouraging cries of the many spectators lining the route leading from the Alpine Hotel Vögeli to the Valley Station Sareis, and back. Once again, this extremely entertaining race demonstrates that donkeys prefer being encouraged, rather than being drilled, and that practically nothing unsettles them. And because taking part in the Donkey Festival is more important than winning, some riders go on to complete a round of honour – not always voluntarily, but nevertheless. Whatever: at the end of the day, all are the same and all have good reason to be happy: the donkeys who can graze to their heart’s content on the green meadows. And the visitors who can spend the end of a convivial day in or around the festival marquee, at the heart of Malbun.
The sevenstrong Organising Committee held regular meetings to ensure an eventful and entertaining supporting programme for young and old. “We invited you all to visit Malbun and to play an active part in our Donkey Festival,” said Normann Bühler, Chairman of the Association. The Organising Committee has always stuck to its tried and trusted concept. Attention focuses on the donkeys, along with visitor conviviality. Visitors may rest assured: Association members make their own animals available to all those who do not have a donkey in their own stables. Moreover, alpacas and lamas will once again be part of the family festival.
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