Though one wouldn't say so, Ommen belonged once to the economicaly important Hanze treaty and has an official Hanze-town status. Trade, done by ships that sailed over the Vecht towards more important Hanze treaty towns such as Zwolle and Kampen, made Ommen grow in early medieval times and also made the town get cityrights in 1248. Now-a-days the town mainly lives from tourism in the green "Vecht" valley.
One of the greatest (winter)events in the Netherlands is for sure the Elfstedentocht (11 cities tour). This rather irregular sports event that actually is a ice skating tour over 200 kiloemters along the 11 cities in the province of Friesland, can be counted to the hardest sport activities around the world, especially that one from 1963, which was in ice cold circumstances with temperatures far below zero and a fierce icy wind from the North West. The winner that year became Reinier Paping and he lived quite a while in Ommen. The town commemorates this sportive hero with a plaque at the former townhall and present tin figures museum.
In these formerly quite isolated surroundings, stories, saga's and legends came in dozains and more. Witches, wizards, devils and other plagues for mankind were told in family circle, mostly to keep the children under the thumb of parenthood, by warning them what all might go wrong if they wouldn't listen to the wise lessons of mother and father. Legendary in the Eastern parts of the Netherlands are the "Witte wieven" (White witches), ghostly appearances that brought shivers and fear in everyone. They actually refer to the low hanging local fog banks that appear in various seasons out of nothing and disappear again into thin air. The original stories are from the "Achterhoek", but Salland knows it's own variants.
Dialects are many in the Netherlands. This small country has about a hundred differnt ones and sometimes it can be said that every town or village has it's own specifics. In Salland as well, one has certain ways of pronouncing the Dutch language and remarkable in this is the slightly swallowing of the "N" in the last parts of words, especially verbs (this also appears in the province of Drenthe). Still, dialects have their charm and every birds sings it's own song!
The region around Ommen (actually the whole area of Drenthe, Salland and parts of Twente) used to be quite poor, because the soil was not so good for agriculture, such as acres. In these surroundings many farmers kept sheeps, that grazed in the grassy fields and also the heather fields. A typical building is the Salland sheep stables, that til today are remarkable items in the landscape. In the last local custom tip about the darker history in Ommen I added an example of a typical sheep's stable in these surroundings.
In world war II Ommen had one of the worst places in the Netherlands. Here was a (straf lager) punishment camp of the German SS, that however was manned by mainly Dutch collaborating NSB and SS agents. Arbeitslager Erika was the name and sounded quite positive, however things that were going on here couldn't stand daylight and great horrors were done in this place to Dutch people that were arrested by the Nazi regime. In small barracks 60 people were put and slept in hanging mats, three over one another. During the day people worked hard labour and were constantly brutalised by the sadistic camp guards. Many died under these circumstances. Let us never forget or fall in the same mistakes that were made then by not acting against these terrible acts.