"Die ZUGER MESSE ist die grösste und erfolgreichste Herbstausstellung für Handel und Gewerbe in der Zentralschweiz" - and for those who do not speak any German or Schwyzerdütsch (aka Swiss German), "the Zuger Messe is the largest and most successful Fall exhibition for trade and industry in Central Switzerland".
Lasting this entire week (21-29 Oct.), the Messe seems to be the event not to miss to discover what goes on on the local market, get a nice pint of local beer, elect the local Miss and cuddle a few bunnies here and there. No need to say I had to visit, largely encouraged by a bright sun and invigorated by a nicely fresh wind.
After walking around 5km throughout a well-designed IKEA-inspired path (you know, you just follow the carpeted way, and going back would be an extremely bad etiquette error), I can easily say that there was no lie in the event's purpose: I feel like i saw all possible local vendors, from the shop selling spices to the local political parties.
It was an easy walk-through, but I am not sure whether it was because I was on my own, or at the opening, or in the middle of the week instead of during the weekend. The way was smooth, and I only stumbled when visitors were having a chat in the middle or looking with love at a new mattress technology.
If you enjoy such markets and fairs, you'll be probably happy to know I did find the good-old shops for magic vegetable peelers (the ones that not only peel but also allow you to decorate your dishes endlessly), the citrus miracle juicer or the neck massage belts. It was possible of course to try various kinds of cheeses and hams, and the most successful stands were obviously those with freebies. Here and there you could also sit down get a bite and try wines and beers.
I think my son would have been bored with the core section of the Messe; but the organizers had planned it well: parents could leave their kids in an activity centre while shopping. The Canton of Zurich also had a very interactive stand to present its water-related policies and achievements, and kids were invited to ride an (onshore) pedalo and visit Lake Zurich. At last, the petting zoo was a not-to-miss zone with local farmers presenting pigs, cows, bunnies and a lot more other furry animals.
I also visited the Messe with the hope to learn more about the sustainability scene in the canton. However, apart from one waste management organization, two or three PV companies and coffee entrepreneurs dealing with local suppliers in Costa Rica, it was a good fail and disappointment.
I did of course a few rookie mistakes on the way:
- I still believe entry fees around can be paid with credit card, as I generally walk around cash-free, but obviously not. Fortunately an ATM was a few meters away, but i had to queue again.
- Behind the smiles and invitations to try whatever they produce, people are here to make business, not having a casual chat with an English-speaking lady. So when I made it systematically clear I was interested but not planning to buy, smiles would sometimes turn into grumpy faces. Oh snap.
Key advice then to survive the Zuger Messe:
- Never make eye contact for more than 3 seconds or smile if you do not want to be bothered or if you do not care about the products. Orherwise you'll end up like me trying a miracle manicure kit or a revolutionary plaster.
- Along the same line, the carpet is not bad to look at, and keep your headset on to look very unsocial. Explain you do not have money to spend today; strangely enough the attention on you will vanish quickly.
- Keep your kids at sight, as the place is enormous: you do not want to lose them there.
- To keep your environmental footprint limited, only take brochures that you really care of, and do not accept any freebies just because they are free.
- The event is near the centre of town, and a combo train or bus ticket can be purchased, so leave your car in the garage.
The Zuger Messe is open until 29 October. Opening hours and entry fees available here.
Click on the pics below to see them in larger format.