Yearly town fairs
Fairs were important events for commercial business in the Middle Ages, and they used to last much longer than just one day. The longest even went on for several weeks. There are three traditional and established fairs in the city of Ptuj, namely Jurijev (St. George’s), Ožbaltov (St. Oswald’s) and Katarinin (St. Catherine’s).
Fairs have always attracted people from near and far to the city, especially traveling merchants, for which such a fair was the best opportunity to strike bargain.
This way of trading has been going on for a very long time and so during fairs, special rules for order and the safety of people and goods were put in place. In Ptuj, these rules were also contained as provisions in the two oldest city statutes from 1376 and 1513.
Early in the morning on the day of the fair, a “fair symbol” called the Hand of Justice was placed on the medieval Ptuj square. It was a metal hand holding a sword. Its placement was announced, according to the old custom, by a march through the city, with a whistler, a drummer and a shot from a mortar. As long as the symbol was being displayed during the fair, only certain merchants were allowed to sell their products. When it was taken down at noon, everyone was allowed to trade.
The city authorities also displayed the official weights and measures for the fair by the city gates. This meant that the weights and measures had to be uniform for all traders.