The sounds of a bygone era are coming to Urbana on July 20 and 21. Around 20 antique and new band organs and street organs from across the Midwest and Canada will gather at Melvin Miller Park for a two-day festival of music.
The organs will be placed around the stage area of the park and will fill the air with music 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21.
The organs were originally built to play on merry-go-rounds, in skating rinks and to entertain folks at circuses, fairs and mid-ways. Some are as large as a delivery truck, and others can fit into a station wagon.
The Mid-America Chapter of the Musical Box Society International chose Urbana for its 44th annual gathering of organs because of the central location and the excellent venue at Melvin Miller Park.
The organization will have a tent at Art Affair on the Square in downtown Urbana on Saturday, providing entertainment and information during the event.
The rally chairman, Rob Pollock of Urbana, said, “The citizens of the region are in for a real treat. These large organs are rare pieces of our history and the music they produce is wonderful.”
“Many folks will be drawn to the German, Dutch and French organs with their beautiful facades and melodic music,” Pollock said.
There will be a wide variety of American organs built by Wurlitzer, Stinson (of Bellefontaine) and other manufacturers.
“The American organs have a distinctive look and sound that will instantly transport you to your first time on a merry-go-round, or at the state fair,” Pollock added. “And to delight the crowds we have a number of roving smaller street organs, sometimes called “monkey organs.”
The Musical Box Society International is an educational organization and a guild of collectors who preserve the music of the past and annually host several educational programs such as this around the globe. Learn more about them at www.mbsi.org.
Info from the Mid-America Chapter of Musical Box Society International.