Where could we see this weekend all at the same time a bovine called Chewbacca, Emile and Images, Olympic rowing champions, Paw Patrol, a few Poilus and even a breakdancing calf? At the Verdun Fair, of course!
Beyond the clichés, the 42e Verdun National Fair, which was held from September 14 to 18 – very symbolic dates for this region marked by the First World War – had the slogan: “The Meuse declares its love to you”creating a curious mix of genres.
The Fair remains an essentially agricultural event but the Meuse department offers a different theme each year. After the centenary of the war (in 2014), the promotion of very high-speed Internet (2017) or departmental services (2021), the Olympic Games (OG) have established themselves in this department and this city labeled “ Land of Games” which will host the Olympic flame in 2024.
“It is a major event for the Meuse, with more than 40,000 visitors each year. So if each Meusien will not be able to go to the Games, we already want to make the flame shine in their eyes”, enthused Véronique Chodorge, responsible for managing the Meuse area within the Fair. “They came to see meumeus, they will have seen athletes”summarized Thomas Furdin, head of the Meuse Youth and Sports department.
And that’s how Tacos, a beautiful 10-month-old calf from the Vallon farm, found himself mixed up with the audience of a breakdancing demonstration, a new Olympic discipline. Or even that the stand of the large agricultural cooperative EMC2 – one of the few among the 400 exhibitors to have played the game – defended agriculture as “a complete sport”. Without forgetting the departmental competitions for the most beautiful piece of decorated bread or nougatine which took as their theme… the 2024 Olympics, or the audible and visible presence of rugby after-sales service.
“An open place, where everyone can practice immediately”
However, the main part of the theme was carried by the department and its partners who created a “Meuse village, Land of Games 2024” between the breeding, arts and crafts, defense professions and funfair areas. They took over the visual identity of the label, in particular the colors blue and coral, and the principle of “active design”, which aims to encourage mobility and physical activity through the layout of space.
A colorful athletics track, badminton or basketball courts, a ping-pong area, or even a mini BMX track have been laid out on the ground with ecological paint, designed to last three weeks. “We inquired with Terre de Jeux but no one knew how to make a temporary installation, explains Thomas Furdin. We had to fend for ourselves, with a company from Strasbourg, Au 32, and the road officials who were delighted to participate in the project. »
“Overall, the average visitor goes to see the animals, eats an ice cream and leaves, he adds. We therefore tried to capture them by making an open place, where everyone can practice immediately. » Quite a successful bet seeing the many children who participated in the activities. All around the central Hexadome and up to the Pré-l’Evêque lake, Ufolep (French Union of Secular Physical Education Works), local sports ociations or the volunteers of Team Meuse 2024, led by the departmental Olympic and sports committee, supervised introductions to golf, archery, climbing and even navigation.
Olympic and Paralympic sports are deliberately ociated. On the small basketball court, the BCV Verdun girls move very naturally from a 3×3 demonstration to the handicapped basketball chairs. Their only concern: knowing if the paint comes off in the wash. Because the rain mixed in with the festivities, depriving the BMX enthusiasts of acrobatics for a few moments – the track having become too slippery – and smearing the young basketball players from head to toe with a purplish mixture of paint. a little too ephemeral.
“You painted your fresco, we painted everyone! “, joke Christine Habart, president of the Meuse basketball committee, addressing the street artist Elka. She covers and uncovers her participatory work depending on the downpours. There we can see the portraits of two breakdance champions, Dany Dann and Carlota Dudek, representative of the urban culture promoted by the city of Verdun.
“The Olympics and sport don’t interest us”
To get “a 360-degree vision of sport” and since all aspects cannot be demonstrated in practice, conferences were organized every day under the Hexadome. Success was not there for health sport, benefits for children or even adapted sport, despite the presence of two Meuse para-swimming hopefuls, Logan Marchand and Jackson Demestre.
The rowers of the Cercle Nautique Verdunois attracted more people, thanks to the arrival of Olympic medalists Germain Chardin and Benjamin Rondeau but also Esteban Catoul, Etienne Juillet and Théophile Onfroy, who would be the only Meusiens to be able to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris.
More fun, a large map of the Meuse (recycled from last year’s theme) placed on the ground allows you to place stakes topped with a 3D printed flame in the towns where the Olympic flame will p. “We have no negative comments on the choice of route, notes Mr. Furdin, but overall we have to recognize that people don’t care much about it. »
It’s not Jennifer, who came with her family to the Fair, who will contradict him: “We’ve heard about the flame, with all the money it costs, but the Olympics and sport don’t interest us. We came here because children love tractors and animals. »
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There are still nine months left for the department to meet the challenge of bringing together as many Meusians as possible on June 29, 2024 around the ping of the Olympic flame.