The Happiest Music on Earth

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2655 S. River Rd. Fremont, OH 43420

The ‘Happiest Music on Earth’ emanated from the Sandusky
County Fairgrounds in Fremont, Ohio, on July 26-28, 1985, when the
Mid-America Chapter of the Musical Box Society International held
its 10th Annual Band Organ Rally. Attended by more than three
hundred society members from across the country, the rally is the
largest event of its type in the United States. Over seventy-five
large and small band organs and calliopes were present at the
gathering, which was open to the public on Saturday, July 27.

The instruments appearing at the rally were the same type which
were seen and heard on the show grounds of America in the early
1900’s. The band organ, an automatically played pipe organ
controlled by specially punched rolls or cardboard, is usually
associated with the carousels found in amusement parks and on
carnivals. The signature of the circus was the calliope, used in
the daily street parade and to accompany the band during the big
top performance.

The advent of the loudspeaker and sound reproduction systems,
combined with a change in America’s musical tastes, eliminated
the need for band organs and calliopes, which were relegated to
storage barns or junkyards. Beginning in the 1940’s, private
individuals began to save and acquire these relics from another
generation, expending much time and effort in their preservation
and restoration.

Band organs built by Wurlitzer, Artizan, North Tonawanda and
other American builders were at the rally, as well as calliopes
built by Tangley and National. Several European organs, built in
Holland, Belgium, France and Germany’s Black Forest, were also
shown. A special feature was the new organs, constructed by MBSI
members whose workmanship rivals that of the old masters. Another
attraction was organs built by Don Stinson of Bellefontaine, Ohio,
America’s only production band organ builder.

Held on the fairgrounds at the same time was an outstanding
Antiques Show and Sale, where a large variety of antiques and
collectables was offered for sale.

Farm Collector Magazine
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Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment