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Queen for the year decided by a show of horns in annual cow fight

By Nikki Weingartner     Jun 15, 2009 in Entertainment
In a strange ritual that dates back hundreds of years and draws attention from locals, a fight to be queen is currently underway. The competitors? Cows.
It's a battle of the bovines, well at least bovinistas, as judges and spectators gather around the mountainside cheering on their herd in a fight for the crown that is anything but moondane. Amongst cheering and enjoying local wines, spectators hope that their family cows win the annual tradition known as "Combat de Reines."
This year on June 14, Berkane and Bergamote, the two finalist Herens in the crowned-row fight it out to see who will be the 'Queen' of Grimetz. (see photo of the two duking it out). According to the SF Gate, the battle brought no harm:
Down in the corral, Bergamote faces off a challenge from Berkane with a fierce stare and a tussle of horns. No harm done.
The ancient tradition begins every summer in June as the family herds are taken to higher pastures. Upon encountering what is termed as "rival herds," the naturally competitive Swiss cows, that resemble bulls instead of a traditional cow, engage in a struggle over power and hierarchy while they feast on a rich buffet of lush Swiss Alpine pastures. The unofficial fights date back as far as the 17th century but the first organized fight began in the 1920s. It has turned into a huge spectator sport.
Locals appear to enjoy the show of power rather than view it as inhumane, as the cows choose the fights on their own. And of course, the winner is awarded with lots of pampering upon the herd's return in the fall, adorning them all with flowers and bells in a parade led by the year's winner. Although no prize money is awarded to the winning family, selling a queen can bring in up to 21,000 euro ($30,000 US).
The owner of the winning cow is said to be the most respected individual, with one local calling the honour "king of the village for the year."
The instinctual battle of the beasts is said to be both beautiful and impressive as well as a traditional recognition of a much simpler time when locals lived off the land. Nowadays, the younger generation is less interested in cattle-rearing.
Certainly takes female mud wrestling to a whole new level.
For a slideshow view of the fights, see here.
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