Trippstadt revives old craftsmanship

by Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

Each first weekend in September, Trippstadt celebrates its annual “Kohlen-brennerfest,” charcoal burners’ fest. Besides the traditional burning of charcoal, the fest includes a smiths’ meeting with demonstrations of old craftsmanship, children’s activities and live music Saturday and Sunday.

***image1***Members of local clubs and associations are in charge of displaying the old skills to include 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 is 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 is 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.

***image2***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.
The smiths’ meeting takes place in the local Eisenhüttenmuseum, the ironworks museum. There are smiths from Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Bavaria and the Palatinate. Goldsmiths from the Rhine River create Celtic jewelry, silversmiths from the Saarland forge jewelry using a former technique, a coppersmith lets roses revive, and horse shoe smiths demonstrate their skills. A brush maker shows how to make brushes and brooms. Coins showing the Trippstadt crest with date will be imprinted.

A special children’s program is offered 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday on Hauptstrasse, which is closed to motorized traffic. In tents on the village square, in the center and some yards, local associations serve beverages and international and regional food specialties.

A creative market with works by artists from the region is set up in Karlstalhalle. Saturday, the fest officially starts 5 p.m. next to the coal kiln. Sunday, activities start 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.