October 9, 2008 at 10:24 AMThe Octoberfest in Munich may be better known, but some 100 miles farther north the citizens of Fuerth celebrate their traditional "Kerwa" (carr-wah) for centuries longer - all the way back to 1100, the year St. Michael was completed.
The specialty: this event takes place right in the city center, for 2 weeks blocking traffic through the busy downtown section, merry-go-rounds, roller coasters, ferris wheels and other attractions lining the streets together with market stalls where you can buy everything and anything (pictures and further information).
Before the advent of PA and electronic equipment, there were calliopes. This years fair showcases three beautiful historic mechanical instruments that play every half hour for 20 minutes - free entrance.
The next calliope
The biggest instrument
The music program is stored on heavy, zig-zag-folded paper; producing those was is an art nowadays almost completely lost - together with the materials and parts one needs to maintain those complicated machines.
For those of you interested in music automatons, visit Siegfried's Music Cabinet at Rüdesheim. There you can see some approaches to integrating string instruments into mechanical instruments - generally using a hurdy gurdy "bowing" method and pneumatically activated "fingers" to stop the strings.
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