Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fokveedag - Where Rural Meets Suburban.

Growing up amongst cows, horses, goats, pigs and sheep was fun - for awhile. My stepfather was an optician who wanted to live the life of a country gent; so there we were in a converted farmhouse with all the mod-cons, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmers (livestock or otherwise) who viewed his efforts to keep some goats, chickens and a horse with curiosity, disdain and sometimes outright animosity.
I fled towards Amsterdam at 17. Need I say more?

Somehow this rural life has crept into my blood. I take a walk or bicycle ride around the countryside near to my suburb most days, and always stop to watch the cows and the horses, and I note with interest that the wheat is harvested right now, and that the onions show a good crop.
Going to the local Fokveedag (Livestock Fair) therefor, is a tradition I will probably stick to till the cows come home.

Around Hellevoetsluis, on the island of Voorne, we have a mixed bunch of country folk. There are the dairy farmers (both cow and goat), the crop farmers and the fruit and veg people. 
Fokveedag used to be all about the livestock, but a need for funds urged the organization board to branch out, so last Saturday I saw a farmer's market, huge shiny combines, traditional crafts and plenty of activities for kiddies. The animals, to me, are the pull, though.

I sat and watched the heifer competition for an hour or so. Being a dummy in Heiferland, they all looked fine to me, albeit a bit stressed. But a farmer on the bench next to me explained what I had to look for. He talked with great enthusiasm and at length about udder suspension, dry legs, gait and backbone. Right. They all looked fine to me!

A new part of this Fokveedag were the dray horses. These huge horses are being bred by quite a few stables on Voorne, and they are impressive. They were being groomed with coloured wool and straw, and they... stood there and took it.  

I used to ride, so am not a novice around a horse, but this was a totally different ballgame. Their owners and groomers had thrown themselves into it and wore pristine white. All of them. I don't know what impressed me more; the fact that the horses were so patient or that the people managed to keep their clothes from being soiled.

It was a fun day, especially for the Hellevoetsluis kids who not often get a chance to get up close and personal with, for instance, a gaggle of geese.
And those rural folk? They used the Fokveedag to show off their livelihood and to compete, but mostly to socialize with other rural folk. 

The same day I went to the local free pop festival, Wallenpop, where I socialized with suburban folk. More, even more, my kind of thing. Still, you can take this girl out of the polder, but you cannot get the polder out of this old girl...

All photos © RenéeKoopman