History of the Haiming Krampus Group

    Haiming, like many communities in the Austrian province of Tyrol, has a long Krampus tradition. Authorities, such as priests, teachers, and mayors, had tried in vain to outlaw the custom. Local farmers secretly opened their threshing floors and farmhouses and allowed the "dark figures," covered in shaggy fur, to act out their mission. The first Haiming Krampus Run of the modern era took place in December 1980.

Idea an its implementation

    Long before the official Krampus Run, a group of young locals, who attended masked balls during carnival season, had drawn attention to their unusual costumes. Producing these costumes was costly — hundreds of dollars per participant — and the group was looking for alternatives. They found it in February 1980 while preparing for one of these balls. Herbert Reinstadler, then a young sports instructor, suggested to his friends to organize an out-of-season Krampus and Nikolo run. (Krampus is normally celebrated on December 5, carnival in February.) The idea caught fire and the Haiminger Krampus Group was born.
Ten young men, headed by Gerhard Valte, the experienced organizer of the carnival, performed their first Run. Herbert Reinstadler, Karl Kopp, Egon Flunger, Günther Kapeller, Oliver Schöpf, Gerhard Leitner, and Reinhold Pohl posed as Krampus; Gerhard Valte, Gerhard Löffler, and Robert Hafele as Nikolo.
    Gerhard Valte, who is still heading the group today, remembers the beginning: "On the first Run, we wore rubber masks, and the furs of bears and bear drivers (both being traditional figures of the Haiming carnival). Even then we attracted a lot of attention. The following year, Gerhard Leitner was the first to wear a carved wooden mask, and for the first time we distributed presents to children in church."  
    The photo shows three of the 1980 Krampuses wearing bear fur and rubber masks.  
    Christian Aschaber, Valte, Sr., and Valte, Jr., painting wooden masks.  
From 1980 to now
    Over the years, improvements were made to masks and costumes and the group began to look 'professional'.  
    In 1982, eight Krampuses wore Schnegg-masks, wooden masks carved by Luggi Schnegg, an artist from the neighboring city of Imst. And instead of the original chamois and synthetic furs, their costumes and boots were made from goat fur. By that time, wearing Schnegg-masks had become a prerequisite for active participation in the Run.  
    The first two years, the group performed for locals only. They walked from door to door and were invited into homes to dine. In 1982, they paraded from the village hall to the church. In 1983, they reversed the order and went to mass before distributing their presents to the children in the village square.  
    Valte says: "Good record keeping of all activities and close cooperation with local government and police assure the safety of all participants and spectators."  
    1984: another milestone was achieved. The Krampus run was extended to two days: one for the people of Haiming, and a larger event for anyone interested in the event. The larger event included the Run and the Cauldron Dance.  
    1986: the chief devil emerged from a manhole.  
    1988: the organizers of the Haiming open-air Nikolo market, and the Krampus group agreed to combine their events. Since then, the official Krampus Run has taken place on the first Sunday of Advent.  
    1995: a platform was erected for families with small children, and the elderly. The chief devil emerged from the "hole", a subterranean bunker which had been constructed on the village square for the Cauldron Dance.  
    1996: the Krampus group performed, for the first time, in the Fachmarktzentrum Imst.  
    A wild Krampus dancing around the burning cauldron in the village square.  
...our chairman, Gerhard Valte.