The Kampen Cow

There's good reason why a contemporary bronze sculpture (1980) of a frolicking cow stands in front of the Nieuwe Toren and, more bizarrely, why a life-sized plastic cow is strung by a rope from the top of the same-said tower for five weeks in July and August during Kampen's summer festival, Kamper Ui(t) dagen. The cows evoke an old legend born out of ancient rivalry between towns in the region. It was said that people from Kampen not only spoke their own dialect (known as Kampers) but were a tad silly to boot, hence the tale of the hanging cow: one day the top of the Nieuwe Toren collapsed, prompting grass to sprout from its crown. Upon spotting the lush green grass, a local farmer tied a rope around the neck of one of his cows and hoisted it up the tower – only for the cow to die before arrival at the top. Neither farmer nor local townsfolk could understand why, apparently. To this day, each year, Kampen's summertime festival opens with a life-sized plastic cow being merrily hoisted up to the top of the landmark tower.