© Domingos Oliveira
First it was definitely not happening, then it definitely was. Some weeks later, it wasn't, then was again but 'different'. Now Luxembourg's largest fair is confirmed as cancelled. Again. But do we really need it?
I know that for some, the Schueberfouer is as vital a two-weeks off as sunning it up on the beach in Blankenberge but, given the past 18 months, is the removal of the colossal funfair really that big a deal?
Nearly two years after having written this divisive article, my opinion remains largely unchanged...unless of course you look at what losing the Schubii means...symbolically.
The Schueberfouer was first founded in 1340 by John the Blind, writes Zara Castagna in her Knowledge Bites (link here) a count who is well know for fighting (and dying) in a battle even though he was blind.
At the time it was to begin on the eve of St. Bartholomew's day (harvest day) and the Fouer was not a funfair but a market where cattle and other agricultural products were sold. Originally, the fair only lasted eight days but now this has turned into twenty.
Attacking the Schueberfouer draws gasps from the Grand Duchy's citizens, for it is steeped in history and tradition. Yet the modern day version of the event is like a cut-price trip to a Theme Park...except that it is not cheap at all, is it?
In fact it is flipping expensive.
But, as I now know (some 18 years after coming here), it means so much more than grabbing a flimsy paper plate loaded up with Gromperekichelcher or fistfuls of serviettes wrapped round a dripping Côtelettes de porc.
This year especially, the Schueberfouer was seen as the great big beacon of hope.
A whopping great lighthouse at the end of a massively long (and presumably still under construction) rotating tunnel.
If you can forgive me the Fun House allegory for a little longer, the last eighteen months have been exactly like those stairs where one set goes up as the other goes down. You spend an awful amount of time getting precisely nowhere. Exactly like 2020 progress and now, as we hit the mid-point of 2021, we've finally gotten over that hump and are quickly stepping on the moving floor as it speeds us off into the wall.
The Schueberfouer would, had it have gone ahead, been the marker for a certain sense of 'freedom'. And while it is not quite the same as Boris Johnson once more postponing Freedom Day in the UK (nominally June 21 and now pushed out till July), it has gotten under the skin of a great number of people already irked at another year with no discernible National Day celebration taking place.
Where will people go now to get their Waltzers fix? Or to chow down on a massively overpriced portion of fish n chips?
Yes, there are 'alternative events' planned, but for those who adore the 'Fouer' that is scant consolation.
Presumably, many Luxembourg residents (with appropriate certificates) will head abroad. Taking with them their polished coins and folded notes. Spending their cash over the border, if not overseas.
True, music and cultural venues are tentatively opening doors, due to a quickening vaccination rate and falling Covid-19 incidence values but the 'Fouer was the one event on the cultural calendar upon which many hopes were pinned.
Those hopes have, however, been pricked quicker than the balloon on one of those water cannon-clown-mouth stitch ups can fleece your average punter (eds. note, I am done with the loose allegories now).
While the once annual event is not everyone's cup o tea / watered down mojito, the status of the fair and what it means, not least to the capital, but to the Luxembourg identity as a whole, leaves a huge hole in the country's exit plans.
We are not angry, we are disappointed.
No, scratch that, we are angry and disappointed.
So, another year goes by, and new markers pop up on the horizon, the International Bazaar, Christmas Markets...
Still, there remains one or two saving graces; you'll not have wads of crumpled tokens in your pockets (which you discover only after having tumble dried your clothes), there'll be distinctly fewer apple sauce stains on your shirt, there'll be far more parking spaces available...
And, you'll not have to pretend that you're '100% mad for the rides', when all you really want is candy floss and a beer.
Here's to next year, then, and the 'Fouer 2022.