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Bavarian Farmer Wins Right to Let His Cowbells Ring

October 13, 1995

KEMPTEN, Germany (AP) _ Farmer Walter Haslach didn’t let himself be cowed when a court ordered him to take the bells off his cattle.

He appealed the 1994 decision and on Thursday won the right to resume using cowbells, a longtime tradition in Bavaria.

A state administrative court ordered him to remove the cowbells after a hotel owner complained the noise bothered tourists at his lodge next to Haslach’s property in the picturesque Alps foothill village of Ofterschwang.

He complied to avoid paying a $21,000 fine, but vowed to fight back.

The state civil court in Kempten first tried to work out a compromise. Chief Judge Johann Spindler suggested Haslach take off the bells only when his cows grazed in the pasture next to the hotel. Haslach, a man of few words, only shook his head. He also declined a suggestion to use smaller bells.

Spindler then recessed the court to the pasture to check the situation personally. Alarmed by the noisy crowd approaching with the judge, the cows that had been re-outfitted with their musical finery ran away.

Haslach refused to bring them back for the test, saying the cows had been through enough stress.

A neighboring farmer finally helped out and brought the herd back with the bells ringing about 30 minutes later for Spindler to hear.

After listening to the jangling demonstration, Spindler decided in favor of the determined farmer.

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