Houtem Jaarmarkt, annual winter fair and livestock market at Sint-Lievens-Houtem
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Houtem Jaarmarkt is an annual trading fair taking place in the village of Sint-Lievens-Houtem in the south-east of the Belgian province of East Flanders. Every year, on 11 and 12 November, the village becomes the site of the country’s last substantial open-air market for trading cattle and purebred horses. Hundreds of dealers proudly display their animals before judges, fellow traders, farmers and thousands of enthusiastic visitors. People travel from across the country to visit the five hundred stallholders and other traders: experiencing, seeing, touching and buying agricultural machinery or animals, and witnessing transactions that still retain old negotiating techniques such as handclapping. With more than six hundred horses and twice as many cows up for sale, the fair is a crucial date in the calendar and identity of professionals in the livestock trade. Each year a different foreign region is invited to present its attractions, regional products and craftsmanship at the fair, enabling the livestock breeders, farmers and artisans of different nations to meet and interact. The fair and market have a huge impact on the local community with private houses turned into public venues where one can enjoy music, drinks and food. For these two days the whole village is transformed into one open, welcoming space.