Right on the Belgian border, in the east of Zeeland-Flanders, is the village of Koewacht. All things flaxen – including the Vlasmuseum – are the claim to fame here. The first mention of Koewacht (‘where cows wait’) was from the late 16th century. When Belgian seceded from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830, the village was split into two a Dutch and a Belgian part.
Farming has ever been the prime source of income here: arable, cattle and flax were the trinity of agriculture. Flaxing lyrical, it was a true hub of flax culture, with several processing works to prepare the crop for other uses. Along the Tragel, you’ll find such a factory, virtually unchanged since it opened.
Along the Emmabaan, the former school for flax-workers. In ye olden days, youngsters were taught to flex their flaxen skills. The ‘t Vlasschuurken (barn) Museum has all you ever wanted to know about the Koewacht flax scene.
The Koewacht church just happened to be in the Belgian part, with the Dutch churchgoers solemnly making their way from Zeeland-Flemish Koewacht to Belgian Koewacht, of a Sunday. During World War One, however, the border was sealed and an emergency Roman-Catholic church set up in the Dutch section. That was replaced by today’s church, named after the Holy Philip and James. Services are still held.
An air station watchtower – one of fifty of its kind remaining – stands guard just outside the village. The Air Force used them to scour the skies for Russian aircraft during the Cold War. ‘Bear’ watching?
The annual Mayfair Market (‘Meikermismarkt’) is one of the recurring events in Koewacht. Woven into its social fabric, you could say. Both villages (NL and B) welcome around 300 market stalls and fairground rides, stretching out over 2 km. The international annual fair (‘Jaarmarkt’) is another popular stomping ground: people come from afar to eye up the cattle assessors and old crafts being shown off. Check our events calendar for these, and other events, in Koewacht.