Trippstadt fest demonstrates old skills

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

Trippstadt celebrates its annual “Kohlenbrennerfest,” or charcoal burners’ fest, Saturday and Sunday. Besides the traditional burning of charcoal, there will be demonstrations of old craftsmanship, children’s activities and live music Saturday and Sunday.

Members of local clubs and associations are in charge of displaying the old skills,  including the burning of charcoal. A week prior to the event, they pile up huge amounts of wood to build a coal kiln – a kind of chimney surrounded by many sticks and covered with turf. The brushwood in the chimney is lit and the kiln starts burning. Then the charcoal burners watch the burning, day and night, for up to a week, keeping the air outside the kiln. If the smoke coming out is blue, the burning process is correct. After the burning, the kiln falls down. The big charcoal pieces are chopped up, the others are raked, and all are collected and packaged.

During the fest, the whole process will be demonstrated again. One kiln will be built, another will burn, and a third will already be burnt down. Visitors can buy the charcoal.

In former times, charcoal was needed to smelt iron ore. Due to the abundance of the forest and the waterpower of the Moosalb Creek, the first smelting-works were established in the Trippstadt area in 1728.
After many trees had been cut down for smelting, a new kind of tree, the fast-growing white pine, had to be planted. It was the perfect tree for charcoal making.

Visitors of the fest can make a stop at a historical smithy where an international smith meeting takes place. Gold, silver, copper and horse shoe smiths demonstrate their skills. A brush maker is available, and coins will be imprinted. There also is a display with paintings of the area by Beverly Nevers.
Sunday, children’s activities, including origami, are offered in front of the Rathaus. There also is a children’s flea market.

In tents on the village square, in the center and some yards, local clubs will serve beverages and food specialties such as gyros, frikadellen, roasted pork, Italian and Thai dishes.

The fest starts 5 p.m. Saturday and runs until 2 a.m. Activities on Sunday continue at 11 a.m.

Trippstadt is an official health resort town because of its good climate and oxygen-rich air. It is located within a wooded area, on a hill, 400 meters above sea level, 12 kilometers south of Kaiserslautern.