Twinning in action.
'Bitte noch ein Bier', You ask in your best German at one of Germany's many festivals. You then rejoin your friends to listen to the entertainment. That's about the extent of your communication with the local population.
How different it was when our twin town Bischofsheim invited a party from CANTA to visit their KERB festival this September. At Kerb there's plenty of wine and quality musical entertainment, but hosted by families you were already a part of the town. The hosts took you around the festival attractions and to places they were proud of. They introduced you to their friends and you talked.
Whatever your level of German you spent the 3 days of the festival joining in the life of the community. You learnt about the things they did well and the things we seemed to do better. You shared their concerns and aspirations and sympathised with their family problems. In short you 'twinned'. It is this coming together which makes twinning special and so different to any other sort of European visit.
The Twinning Committee in Bischofsheim advertised the visit by the CANTA guests in the local paper. They also arranged two occasions when townsfolk could meet their visitors and either try out their English or talk together in German. They explained that our Chairman Clive Mosby had a good command of the language.
During the festival the Mayor, Reinhard Bersch, made a point of greeting everyone and telling them about the town. Each guest was presented with a bottle of wine and a fine wine glass in a presentation box.
Why is the festival called Kerb?
The origins of the KERB festival are complex but in Bischofsheim relate to the celebration of the consecration of the local church. 'Kirchweih' becomes KERB. An ecumenical service was the focal point on the Sunday with 'Gulaschsuppe' to follow.
Within the festival here are also non Christian elements including the laying of birch branches around the town, a tractor and float procession and the 'liesverbrennung' the burning of a female straw puppet over a bonfire on the Monday 7 days after the main celebrations have ended.
See our piece on last year's Kerb and also Wikipedia for a full explanation of the festival in its many forms (in German).
What happens during Kerb?
The centre of the town is made traffic free and each of the many local organisations, the choir, the cycle club, the hand harmonica band sets up stalls to sell drinks and sometimes food. Stages are set up in the open areas and the clubs sponsor the entertainment during the three days. There was pop and rock, jazz, big band music, orchestral music and much more.
On the Saturday the Kerb organisers, the 'Kerweborsch', started the Kerb in style with a band processsion that snaked around the town.
In one area there was a small funfair dominated by a gigantic 'Chair-O-Plane' carousel. The screams could be heard for miles!