At the start of November, on the Wednesday following All Saints Day (November 1), the town of Soest in Westphalia (my couty's capital) celebrates the 'Allerheiligen Kirmes' (All Saints Day Funfair).
This is said to be the greatest town funfair in Europe, and is now in its 667th year.
Soest lets its hair down during these days - and so do far over one million visitors.
Soest is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It's located east of Dortmund along the Hellweg, at 51° 35' North, 8° 7' East. Population: 48,361 (2001). Area: 85.81 km². It's capital of the Soest district.
Due to the fertile soil the area around Soest was long occupied before in 836 the first official paper mention a village. In the 11th and 12th century Soest did grow a lot, making it the biggest city in Westphalia with about 10,000 citizens. It was also member of the Hanseatic League at that time until 1609.
Being always very self-confident in the so-called Soester Fehde from 1444 to 1449 Soest did liberate itself from the bishop of Cologne, the owner of Westphalia. No longer capital of Westphalia Soest did align itself with the duke of Cleves. When the last duke of Cleves died in 1609 that dukedom was inherited by Brandenburg; after a short siege Soest was also part of it. During and after the Thirty Years' War Soest did loose both population and influence tremendously, at the lowest point in 1756 it only had 3,600 citizens.
With the creation of the Soest district in 1817 it's influence slowly rised again, however the industrialization of the Ruhr area did not reach Soest and thus it kept to be a small city.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms show a key, which is the symbol for the Saint Peter, the patron of Cologne. The coat wasn't changed even after Soest did no longer belong to the Cologne area.
The impressive old part of the Hanseatic City of Soest is dominated by significant historical monuments built of the green sandstone which is typical of Soest. In addition, trim rows of half-timbered houses, narrow lanes and cosy gastronomy invite you to stroll or tarry in their historical atmosphere. The conference centre "Stadthalle" and, in particular, the cultural centre "Alter Schlachthof" (Old Abattoir) provide pleasure and entertainment with their programmes of events attracting visitors from far and wide. Numerous well-known artists worked in Soest: Christian Rohlfs, Emil Nolde, Hans Kaiser, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, to name but a few. Especially the expressionist Willhelm Morgner has left his mark on the city. Further information, be it tourist enquiries or information of a general nature, can be found on the City of Soest web page.
The economic structure is traditionally typified by trade and administration. Since the end of the 1960s, however, important manufacturing businesses have been established due to increased political enterprise. Especially electro-technical and aluminium industries are represented by internationally relevant firms. At the present time, however, approx. 2/3 of the workforce is employed in the service sector. In addition to retail trade, industrial and IT wholesale businesses play an important role in the economic life of Soest.
Soest was part of the Hanse from its very beginnings. The town was in possession of one of the four keys (along with Visby, Lübeck and Dortmund) to the Hanseatic Treasure kept on the Baltic island of Gotland and was therefore without doubt regarded as the "vanguard" and "principal city" of the Hanseatic League.
source: Hanseatic Cities