In the old days, groups of carnies used to travel from village to village, staging their shows. To demonstrate that man can impose his will on predators, dancing bears were subdued by their trainers. This unusual event must have fascinated the ancients. No wonder that they imitated it. And so the band of bears has been an integral part of Imst’s Fasnacht until the present day. The bears take part in the procession wearing white or brown sheep furs, jogging with their characteristic mixture of force and elegance. They are kept in check by strong drivers, accompanied by playful monkeys, and rhythmically guided by tambourine players and a Swegler (with a little whistle).

Taming the beast

From time to time the bears are forced to show their respect for the power of their drivers and are made to somersault on the ground. But bears are not naturally predisposed to do this (they are facetiously addressed: ursus ursus bacchanalium) the driver has to hit his bear several times with his massive stick before the beast obeys him. Normally, the person inside the costume does not feel any pain, his head is protected – but it can happen that the driver misses his target in the turmoil and breaks the bear’s collarbone – bad luck! After the somersault the driver triumphs, “Look here – the beast obeys me. Don’t be afraid!”

  • Bears
  • Monkey