The last weekend in August once again sees the town of Brunsbüttel playing host to a mock Olympic Games, where a variety of team sports are given a slapstick edge by playing them in the vast expanses of thick coastal mud. The event includes an opening ceremony in which the ‘Watthletes’ march by and a flame is lit in a barbecue.
Teams come to Brunsbüttel from all over Europe to throw themselves around and fling mud in each other’s faces in pursuit of various sports. Participants often further heighten the hilarity by wearing fancy dress.
The tournaments, which run parallel all Sunday afternoon, include Watt-football, Watt-volleyball, Watt-handball, and the disturbing Eel-relay race, where a fake eel is used in lieu of a baton.
According to the Wattolümpiade website, the original idea had been to race with live eels, release the eel carried by the winning team into the river, and eat the losing eels.
A phone call from the notorious sourpusses Greenpeace reportedly scuppered this inspired idea, but luckily the participants are now handed an ingenious eel-surrogate. Made from a bicycle tyre inner-tube filled with rotting fish guts, rice and a vibrator, the device creates the uncanny illusion of running through mud carrying a live eel.
The Wattolümpiade was inaugurated in 2004 in aid of the German Cancer Society (DKG). In 2005 its organisers were awarded a German tourist board prize for innovative tourist projects.
Saturday’s events also include the Wattstock Festival, a mini-rock festival featuring favourite German bands like Torfrock and Wohnraumhelden.