St. George was one of the best-known patron saints of shepherds in the Great Hungarian Plain, and the rounding up of grazing farm animals took place around his name day. The settling and paying of shepherds’ wages was also connected to this day.
Because of this, the celebration of St. George’s Day has always been an important event among shepherds. They prepared for this day well in advance at the local inn or so-called shepherd’s house and celebrated for several days, even holding a shepherd’s ball.
The shepherds of Hortobágyi Nonprofit Kft. still round up their flocks as they did 100-150 years ago. Those interested in this tradition can take part in the ceremony starting at 2 p.m. by herding the Racka sheep across the Nine-Hole Bridge (“Kilenclyukú híd”). Visitors will also be able to see six gray cattle and four rare buffalo. At the closing of the event, participants can also enjoy a foal show.
In addition to the St. George’s Day Herding Festival, the Crane Festival will also be held at the same time.
Cranes are a symbol of the Hortobágy National Park, and the “crane march” is a fantastic natural event during the autumn sunsets. Based on the latest data, more than 80,000 cranes are in Hortobágy. The marching of the cranes lasts only a few weeks and is a memorable experience to watch. The highlight of the Crane Festival will be the dawn, daytime and dusk tours, where participants can observe the breathtaking sight of the crane march.
The festivals, excluding the crane tours, can be visited free of charge. Registration for the tours is required.