Event features horses, vendors, lottery

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***A fest of a special kind lures about 20,0000 visitors every second Wednesday in November to Quirnbach near Glan-Münchweiler. It’s the “Quirnbach horse market.”

Actually, the village has a long market tradition. In 1444, historical documents mention the first market called “Bartholomäusmarkt.” The local church, Bartholomäus Church, was known as a place for pilgrimage. With the pilgrims the vendors came to sell all kinds of merchandise. Quirnbach turned into a community with monthly markets after the town of Kusel was burnt down during the French Revolution in 1794. The Kusel markets had to move to Quirnbach. According to a document dated April 26, 1799, every third day of the month a cattle market was authorized. After Kusel was rebuilt, city officials wanted the markets back. But vendors and farmers from the local areas and even neighboring countries wanted to keep going to Quirnbach. In the years 1856 and 1857, 25 markets were held each year in Quirnbach. Local people made good money with the many gasthauses they needed to feed all the visitors. Until around 1900, every second house in the village was turned into an inn.

After around the middle of the 19th century, horses were not only owned by noble people but also used as draught animals by farmers. Quirnbach decided to hold its first horse market on Saint Martin’s Day of 1877. The date in November was a good one for farmers. The crop was in and the financial situation was balanced. People had the time to visit the horse market. They sat together, celebrated and had fun. They started having dances. Since at that time it still was customary for parents to engage their children (without asking them), the horse market turned into the “marriage market.”

Also, the village asked the government to give authorization to hold a lottery, where people could win household items and agricultural machines. The main prizes were horses. The first time, 5,000 lottery tickets were sold. In 1892, 24,000 tickets were sold and in 1893, more than 300 ticket vendors traveled through the Pfalz to sell the tickets.

After World War II, and due to a growing motorization in agriculture, the cattle and horse market lost its importance. Better streets allowed farmers to visit their cattle dealers at any time and not only during the market.
Soon Bartholomäusmarkt was celebrated as a village carnival
In the beginning of the 1980s, community officials, local clubs and business people helped to revive the horse market and the lottery.

“From 10 a.m. to about 1 p.m. there is a horse show, where different breeds get presented,” said Hanne Harth, the mayor’s wife. In between the presentation of each single horse, there are show performances. After the awarding ceremony, some horses are up for sale.
Vendors’ stands and booths with fruit, sweets, clothes, jewelry and a lot more are set up along the streets. Musical entertainment is provided throughout the day in the fest tent.

“Visitors who want to join the lottery can buy them now in stores in the local area and in our village until 9 a.m. Wednesday,” said Hans Harth, Quirnbach’s mayor. The main prizes are a boat cruise, a trip to Mallorca, a trip to Austria, a trekking bike and a ride on the “draisine,” or bicycle trolley, from Staudernheim to Altenglan.

“Winners find their names on our Web site www.quirnbach-pfalz.de,” said Mr. Harth.

Quirnbach is located near Glan-Müncheiler on A62. It’s a village with 680 inhabitants, including 100 Americans.

“We hope a lot of our American neighbors are coming to join us in this fun-filled annual event,” said Mr. and Mrs. Harth.