The Vierdaagsefeesten is celebrating its 50th anniversary! This celebration is a good reason to look back at how it all began, and to find out how the Vierdaagsefeesten developed into the spectacular event it is today.
How it all began
In 1969, the 53rd edition of the march was outshined by Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing. The 15.000 marchers figuratively walked in Armstrong’s shadow, as their steps went mostly unnoticed: even the marchers themselves wanted to be home in time to see the landing on television. The abandoned inner city of Nijmegen was furthermore void of any festive activities, that might have persuaded the marchers to stay nonetheless.
This was the last summer the marches commenced without any parties. The last summer without what is now widely known as the Vierdaagsefeesten. Nico Grijpink was the one who — after this disappointing edition — sounded the alarm. He called what happened unacceptable, and feared that if circumstances did not change, the Four Day Marches might leave Nijmegen to find a new home.
In April 1970, Nico wrote a cri de coeur to all entrepreneurs in the city, stating: “We have to save Nijmegen, otherwise the Four Day Marches will go extinct”. A PR firm was hired, that came up with the idea to invite all entrepreneurs in the city to a meeting by attaching a guilder to the invitation with the words “this is just the first profit”. Grijpink, however, thought this amount was too high, so they settled on attaching a quarter.
The meeting was a big success, and the Vierdaagsefeesten were born.