One word strikes fear into the hearts of parents all over Denmark. It’s one that causes palpitations, major tantrums and silence you can cut with a knife. It’s a word with more latent venom than many other words in the Danish vocabulary. More than ‘dental cavities’. More than ‘class birthday party’. And more than ‘confirmation dresses’.
“All my classmates are going,” ‘I’ve been a scout for years and can handle myself,” and “As soon as I’m 18, you can’t stop me,” you will be told. And once you have said “yes”, there is no going back. Yes, the word we all dread is ‘Roskilde’, as in ‘Roskilde Festival’ – beaten only by ‘tattoo’ or ‘flesh tunnel’ (those earrings that stretch lobes beyond the bounds of reason).
Now think again!
Thankfully, Roskilde has far more to offer than music legends, drinking marathons and proximity to all kinds of things we’d much rather not think about, let alone commit to print. And over the first weekend of June, from the Friday to the Sunday, Roskilde will be rocking it with the ANIMALS.
Not the rock band famous for ‘The House of the Rising Sun’. No, I’m talking about horses, goats, sheep, dogs and more besides being put through their paces and up close and cuddly.
Roskilde Dyrskue is a kind of massive county show. Like the Norfolk Show I grew up with back home in East Anglia: a bundle of fluff, fur, food and fun.
The program is vast. I’ve skimmed it and found milking goats, egg and hen activities (which might involve scrambling about?) and sheep getting a summer haircut – sheer bliss on a hot day, no doubt.
Look out for these
One or two activities sound slightly surreal, though. Like one that translates as ‘Come and make jewellery and other things from livestock in the workshops’. What does that mean? Pimp a chicken?
Or how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Could be grisly. It probably involves angora rabbits and wool. But I wouldn’t pet on it.
Another activity is headlined as ‘Anatomy’ with the subheading ‘Zoo’. Oh dear, more surplus giraffes being recycled, perhaps. And the show also advertises not only ‘tractor pulling’ but also ‘pony pulling’ – who’s pulling who? Or what? A Doctor Doolittle Push-me-pull-you? Beats ‘pulled pork’ from an animal’s perspective, at any rate.
My favourite billing has nothing to do with ducks. It’s the ‘Gangartskonkurrence for de udstillede heste og ponyer’ – which sounds like a Monty-Python-style Ministry of Silly Walks competition for horses and ponies. And showjumping. Not just for horses, but Alsatian dogs and rabbits too. Bouncing bunnies, hop to it!
What you need to Noah
Though the website doesn’t seem to be in English, there are heaps of pictures that help bring to life the show’s mission: to ensure understanding of modern agricultural production. ‘Organic’ and ‘ecology’ are words featured a lot.
There will be more than 1,500 creatures on a site that covers a staggering 35 hectares – 70 football pitches. But don’t feel overwhelmed because there are children’s routes (Børneruten) marked on a map you can download from the website. Press the ‘program’ tab in the main menu, choose the red dot on the right and the list will be whittled down to kiddy-friendly activities. Animals are colour-coded too.
The eateries, horse shows etc continue after the ticket sales end at the gates, but some activities end at 5 pm. Visitors are welcome to watch the animals be tucked up in bed, but most gates – except Gate 3 facing Darupvej – close in the evening. And bear in mind that dogs on leads are welcome too if they toe the line.
Meals on wheels
You can rent a small pull-along ‘wagon’ and take your own food and drink, or visit a burger ‘workshop’, which sound more like my idea of ‘fun’ than ‘work’.
Alternatively, you can buy a sustainable picnic basket of local ingredients online (look for ‘køb din picnic kurv her’ on the website; adults options are 125kr, children’s 65kr).
So there’s every opportunity to pig out with pigs out, bigtime, along with Chicken Licken, the Ugly Duckling and a real live performance of The Three Billy Goats Gruff on Saturday at 4pm in the small animals’ ring 1. Off you trot!