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Carnaval Float Tour

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Carnaval Tour_George20 March 2013

by Goerge Oeser
Pictures courtesy of Anne van Oorschot

Doede Dé Dikkels

At the beginning of the tour, several members of TIC found themselves being asked the question above. Don’t worry, very few of us had any idea what it meant. Most of us still don’t except for knowing that it is the motto for this year’s Carnival. What we do have is a better understanding of the traditions and work that goes into the annual Carnaval celebrations in Tilburg.

Carnaval is a time honored tradition in Tilburg, or as the city is known during Carnaval, “Kruikenstad” or “Jug City”. The jugs referenced in Tilburg’s temporary name are of courseCarnaval Tour 2_Georgethe containers that were used to transport urine to the local textile mills. So Kruikenstad, as is all of Carnaval, is a way to poke some kind-hearted fun at the city and other aspects of our daily lives. It is that kind, good hearted ribbing, through the floats and costumes seen during Carnaval, combined with a fair amount of drinking that defines Carnaval for many people. For those of us who were able to enjoy the tour of the Carnaval Building Hall, we learned that there is a lot more to it than that.

Carnaval traces its roots back to the Roman Catholic Church and the festivities that take place directly before the period of fasting and reflection known as Lent. Around the world the celebrations, from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to New Orleans in America to the Cape Verde Islands in Africa to the celebrations in other European nations like Germany and Switzerland, all trace their Carnaval traditions back to this same source. While the source is the same, the specific aspects of Carnaval have evolved to suit the country-specific cultures.

Carnaval Tour_9746Our evening at the Carnaval Building Hall started off in the small museum featuring memorabilia from past Carnavals. We enjoyed a presentation given by Aart Beukers, a member of the Tilburg Carnaval Association board of directors. Aart provided us with details about the history of Carnaval, how the Carnaval prince is selected, the relationship between the Tilburg Carnaval Association and the individual Carnaval associations in Tilburg.

Carnaval TourHe described the multitude of committees involved in the preparations for and the running of Carnaval and made it quite clear that Carnaval is not something that starts off with the presentation of the Prince on November 11 and ends at midnight on the first day of Lent. No, Carnaval is an event that takes hard work all year and a very large budget to bring to life.

After the presentation, and a bit of the local liqueur Schrobbeler, we headed out to the main part of the hall to see the work in progress. Walking through the door from the museum area into the main hall we were suddenly struck by the smell of polyester resin and paint fumes while our eyes tried to take in all of the bright colors and interesting forms of the floats under construction.

Carnaval TourPeople, animals, flowers, celestial bodies, almost anything you can imagine was being incorporated into the designs of the floats by volunteer workers who all seemed to be having a good time despite the looming deadline. It was great fun seeing how the floats were constructed out of wire mesh and polyester to create gigantic and fantastic sculptures that will be roaming the streets of the Center in just a few days. Ever wondered just how those floats are powered and steered through the city? This behind the scenes tour allowed us to see that as well.

As the night ended, we were each graciously given a copy of the book “De Bouwers” which gives a detailed description of the process of creating a Carnaval float and after saying our goodbyes we all left with a much better understanding of what it takes to put on a spectacle Carnaval in Tilburg!

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