SKARYSZEW, Poland – One of Europe’s oldest and largest horse fairs takes place in the village of Skaryszew, central Poland, on the first Monday of Lent and its busy trading atmosphere amid the clopping of hooves can be perceived in images released Monday by epa.
Men have traded horses here since as far back as 1432.
In previous editions, the “Wstepy,” a local term for horse market, brought together around 1,000 to 1,500 horses for sale and some 10,000 visitors.
The fair is a busy time for traders, buyers and horses as the smell of fresh and smoked sausages, bacon, bigos (a traditional Polish dish) is everywhere, washed down with vodka.
Farmers and butchers from all over Poland and even as far afield as Italy, where horse meat is considered a delicacy in some regions, visit every year.
The fair has also had its opponents as, during the 2012 edition animal cruelty protesters demonstrated, claiming some horses were mistreated by their owners and that unsold animals were often slaughtered for their meat.
In 2017, the Centaurus animal rights organization stepped in and purchased some cheaper horses to avoid them allegedly going to the slaughterhouse for meat.
The activists have argued that some horses travel from Skaryszew to slaughterhouses dotted around Europe in poor conditions with few safety checks made.
Skaryszew’s current street plan dates from the early 18th century and, after surviving various large fires, it remains nearly unchanged.