One big part of summer in Belgium are festivals, village celebrations (kermis is the name they give to it in Flanders) and all sorts of small scale events. Our neighborhood here in Rupelmonde is not left out of the traditions, they throw a party called Schellekensfeesten. That event took place last weekend.
What on earth is a kermis then? Well, for Rupelmonde it means a bit of everything. There is a flea market on the streets, small amusement park, gigs, fireworks and beer, waffles and fries. An event for everybody as long as the weather ain’t too bad, I should say.
Well, since we happened to not have any plans to go anywhere that weekend we decided to take part in the festivities. We prepared a BBQ and invited a friend over. He was going to the Lokerse feesten but would have a bit of time to share with us too. Great!
Guy arrived with his Merc half full of beer. Powered by the beers we smoked half of our house, ate and headed out for some more beers and adequately bad music. The towns people started to all gather around and the warm summer evening had a nice atmosphere to it.
Before we let Guy leave for the Lokerse feesten we walked round the festival area and found the bumper cars! There was this warm childish feeling awaking in us and before I knew it, Waffle had gone and bought all of us a couple of rounds in those cars. Oh dear, the poor actual children who dared to join the fun. We all went a little mad, hitting every car we managed to catch. It had been a loong time since I last did something like that, and afterwards my cheeks hurt because the maniac smile I was wearing. I hope I didn’t leave too bad nightmares to anybody.
We were left just by the two of us since Guy had gone to enjoy Slayer, rather than slager. It was nice to see our sleepy little town wake up and have a party. More people were starting to gather for the main event of the evening. There was fireworks in the program. We searched our way out of the crowd (as a good hermit should) and found our spot right at the dam of Schelde. We weren’t expecting much from the show. Rupelmonde is a very small town after all, but we were pleasantly surprised. The pyro people had managed to put up quite a show that lasted probably a half an hour covering the whole town in gunpowder smoke and bits of ash.
By the time the fireworks were done, the people had had enough time to find their way to the beer and back a few times and were soundly feeling the vibes of traditional slager, which the bar next door to us was willingly blasting out of its loudspeakers. There was a happily swaying mass of people singing along less than accurately on our street. It was a hellish job to get to sleep with that.
Sunday came. Some of the people of Saturday were still there. The flea market had given way to people showing their traditional professions of handcrafts and the streets were paraded by giants and marching bands and people in fancy costumes. Yes, you read correctly, giants.
There is that odd tradition in Flanders of building giant dolls that are then paraded through streets with every possible occasion. Also a marching band might be added. The most famous one from Rupelmonde seem to be the one picturing the map maker Mercator. Quite a fancy doll it is at that. The parading tradition has been added to the UNESCO cultural heritage list too. I am yet to discover why this is going on.
After all that marching, singing and drinking the buzz of the people was calming down. After all, it was Sunday and many were looking at a working day ahead of them. The bar next door decided not to care and played, not slager, but 90′ dance hits well into the night with a large bunch of people cheering them on. Again, not the optimal sleeping conditions, but we managed. And after such a nice weekend at home, I am willing to give in to some discomfort.
Next weekend we are finally leaving home. Off to Les Hemmes again, to try and survive alive yet another buggy session!