Band Organ Rally this weekend at CCHS


Members of the Mid-American Chapter of the Musical Box Society International will be displaying a gathering of American and European Fairground Organs at the Champaign County Historical Society in Urbana.

The display and performances will be Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Attendance is free of charge.

The beautiful and huge instruments, which once played on carousels, at skating rinks and fairgrounds from the 1890s through the 1950s, will be in Urbana for a weekend of “The Happiest Music on Earth.” Restored antique band organs still entertain at Kings Island and Cedar Point carousels.

There will be 12 organs on display including 3 modern Stinson Organs (Bellefontaine, Ohio), 2 antique Wurlitzer Band Organs (USA), a 49-key Pell from England and four smaller “street organs” from Germany and Bohemia. In addition, for the first time at a Mid-Am Rally, we will be introducing a large custom built “Jackelodeon” built by Carl Curtis of Michigan and a Belgian 45-key “Draaiorgel” built by the famous builder Johnny Verbeeck.

The Verbeeck is pictured with this article. It was built in 2009 for a couple in Florida, made its way to Tennessee in 2016 and relocated to Ohio in the past year.

The “Rally” is much like a car show. The owners bring the organs to a park in large trailers and then demonstrate how the instruments work. You will even be able to “look under the hood” and marvel at the technology from the turn of the 20th century.

The Musical Box Society International (MBSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the enjoyment, study and preservation of all automatic musical instruments. Founded in 1949, MBSI now numbers over 1,000 members with representation in 50 US states and 19 other countries. It focuses on music boxes of all sizes, from small, hand-held wind-up boxes to fairground organs or room-sized orchestrions, including musical clocks and snuff boxes, singing bird boxes, player pianos, reproducing pianos, nickelodeons and automatic musical instruments of any kind.

The members displaying their Organs on May 20-21 will come from all over the Midwest.

The Champaign County Historical Society in Urbana is a great match for MBSI. The museum contains a wealth of local, Ohio, and U.S. history in its 5-acre park at 809 East Lawn Avenue, Urbana. All are encouraged to visit and enjoy all that the museum has to offer the public – and enjoy the Antique Music Machines while there.

Contact Rob Pollock at 937-508-4984 for more information on the MBSI Rally.

Submitted by CCHS

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