Oosterhout, February 12, 1956. In the Brabant city of Oosterhout (Easterwood del Carnavallo), under the leadership of Prince Mienus 1 and his Council of Eleven, the first public carnival kicks off. The residents have, among others, Leo Wellens to thank for this, as the founder of the Oosterhout Carnival Foundation, the Smulnarren, received the green light to celebrate the beginning of Lent in a festive manner. On the streets this time.
"The fun starts at one o'clock; let the merriment begin," says the program written in the newspaper. Prince Mienus 1 is welcomed by the Boerenkapel at the opening. Among other things, the agenda includes the children's parade, the prince's dinner, and a train tour passing by dance halls and pubs.
Oosterhout continues the festivities for two more days. On Monday, there is the Farmers' Wedding of Hendrien and Joanus on the Heuvel, and on Tuesday, the villagers play a costumed football match in the field behind a café. Who kicks off the game? None other than Mienus 1, of course. The festivities come to an end only at half past eleven in the evening: Easterwood del Carnavallo buries Carnival 1956.
Kabinet der Zotheid (Cabinet of Folly)
With the symbolic farewell of the very first edition, the Smulnarren immediately planted a seed: the people of Oosterhout have always loved the celebration. Not only does Kaaiendonk - the city's name during carnival since 1978 - fully embrace it, but since December 2022, it even has a carnival museum: Ut Kabinet der Zotheid. Here, showcase pieces tell the entire story of Kaaiendonk.
"From photos and invitations to clothing and decorations, we have filled 24 display cases," says founder Karin Mertens. "But the most important items are the badges worn by true Kaaiendonkers around their necks. Each edition, residents submit their designs based on the annually changing motto, and then the Oosterhout Carnival Foundation, the Smulnarren (OCS), actually produces the best design. Everyone wants to have such a badge. They are even offered for significant amounts on Marktplaats."
"We want Ut Kabinet to be more than just a museum. It should also be a meeting center"
Donated by Kaaiendonkers
Karin is a fervent carnival-goer and badge enthusiast herself. Her personal collection was actually the inspiration for Ut Kabinet der Zotheid. "When I was cleaning out my closet in 2013, I accidentally broke a badge," Karin explains. "That's when I decided to start collecting them. After a call to fellow townspeople, I received a lot of badges and various other 'historical follies.' They often told me that I should take everything. So, the entire collection was donated by the people of Kaaiendonk."
A Beer, Coffee, or Schrobbelèr
The museum is now established as a foundation in a beautiful location in the city center, between the Sint-Jansbasiliek and Theater De Bussel. People easily drop by here. They find themselves in a carnival-like atmosphere... "Of course, we play cheerful music," says Karin. "Visitors can also enjoy a coffee, beer, or Schrobbelèr. We want Ut Kabinet to be more than just a museum. It should also be a meeting center where people reminisce about the stories of the past."
And if the visitors don't do it among themselves, there are always the volunteers. "They enthusiastically share stories about the items in the display cases," adds the initiator. "That brings the memories even more to life. And hopefully, even more so with our newest initiative: Ut Kabinet Tells. Three veterans will take thirty visitors back in time. Yes, I think these gatherings will fill up in no time."
"The technicians were just as excited about the display cases as we were!"
Stunning Display Cases
Karin is delighted with the promising start of Ut Kabinet. People are already finding their way there and giving positive feedback after the tour of the museum. "That's partly due to the beautiful display cases from SDB," says the initiator, who also appreciates the collaboration. "It felt right from the beginning. I was welcomed into the workshop in Rosmalen and could see everything. Then they really brainstormed with us about our budget and possibilities. Even during the installation, it was a joyful experience. The technicians were just as excited about the display cases as we were!"
Behind every object in a showcase lies a remarkable story. The showpiece has earned its place behind the glass for a reason. We tell these historical, thrilling, and captivating stories in the Showcase Story section.
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