History – The story of the „Heringstage“

Dear guests of the „Heringstage“, dear residents of Kappeln,

Over 30 years ago the idea of former head of the Tourism association (Touristik-Verein), Annelene Ahlemann, was put into action. The idea was to create a festival in the environment of the Kappeln herring fence, which is the only one left in Europe and still kept in a good condition: the idea of the „Heringstage“, which is “Herring Days” in English, were born.
Also the heads of the “Verschönerungsverein” (the association for urban beautification in Kappeln) Claus Siemen and Uwe Lorenzen, were taking up the idea. With the help of many citizens of Kappeln, our municipality, and in cooperation with almost every association and institution in Kappeln, the idea turned into the fabulous festival of the „Heringstage“, which you are able to visit nowadays. To ensure a qualitatively organized festival the “Heringstage”-Committee was formed.

The “Verschönerungsverein” took up the cause of restoring and preserving the herring fence with the help of the city, the county and the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Besides a season extension in the whole region was expected from the „Heringstage“.

The financing of the festival is partly provided by the herring bet of the celebrities (organized by the “Verschönerungsverein”), which is taking place on Ascension Day morning. A few high personalities arrive from far and wide and pay a certain entry fee for taking part in the herring bet to estimate the weight of the freshly herring fence-caught herring. The ones who won the bet become the herring king and the herring queen. On the other hand the festival is financed by the herring bet of the citizens, at which the amount of herring has to be estimated.

1979: The first time when the „Heringstage“ were celebrated, there was a little pavilion built on the Ellenberg-side of the Schlei as well as a little food stall court built by the Kappeln merchants on the Angeln-side of the Schlei. Thanks to the lovely merchants wives a traditional herring meal on Ascension Day was served.

Malicious gossip had it that those were probably the first and the last „Heringstage“.

However the idea of extending the season was successful. And against all odds the second „Heringstage“ were so much crowded with people so that the “Heringstage”-Committee decided to move the pavilion to the Angeln-side in the third year.

Also the navy started taking part in organizing the festival. So they invented events like the famous rubber dinghy race and presented their naval vessels. The twin town Faaborg, the friendly city Nyborg and -since the opening of the “Iron Curtain”- also the polish twin city Stolpmünde/Ustka as well as the Navy of Swinemünde visit Kappeln every year with large delegations and vessels.

Because of financial reasons the “Heringstage”-Committee turned into the well-known “Veranstaltungs GmbH” (Event-GmbH) of the tourist region Kappeln nine years ago and our trademark, the little and cute Herring named Kuddel Kappeling, has been protected by copyright.

1998: With the help of the herring queen in those days, the state parliament’s vice president Gabi Kötschau, the city of Kappeln was able to welcome over 200 guests from all eight Baltic Sea neighboring countries as well as guests from Kaliningrad/Königsberg for the 20th „Heringstage“. This special event was worldwide news.
Recently the newspaper “Die Welt” presented a catalogue of the 100 most famous and largest festivals of the world and lo and behold among those 100 were the „Heringstage“.

We are all very proud of this fact, as we only could be that successful with the passionate detail work and tireless efforts and cooperation of Kappeln City, its citizens, the associations and the institutions.

Edgar Rieger