On the morning of Saturday 9 September 2023, the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) gathered a large number of guests eager to listen to and share stories about the Schueberfouer in the 1960s for its Forum Z in the Schueberfouer restaurant An der Flesch.
Denis Scuto, Deputy Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH), noted how exceptional the Schueberfouer was for him when he was a child. His daily horizon was the country's south, also called the "Minett". He emphasised that the Schueberfouer, as multiple members of the forum agreed and reiterated, serves as an identity marker for the Luxembourgish population. This meeting was a novel way of getting in touch with history, keeping memories alive and stories in the voice of the people themselves. Forum Z (Forum Zäit – Time Forum), a public history events series, is one of the ways in which history can now be recorded in the digital era, he stressed.
Veronique Faber, who is in the process of writing a PhD thesis in history about the Schueberfouer through its various phases, noted that written sources are often not enough to give a thorough account of the Schueberfouer: "Everything I am saying is from the newpapers and testimonies." She highlighted that the Schueberfouer study is important to pick up for various elements, such as noticing the international links and how "without an international link, there would be no yearly event."
From 1969 onwards, the Schueberfouer had a gate at the entrance every year - the design changed annually, which is still the case today. This succeeded in drawing people's and the media's attention. In the past, the Schueberfouer used to be marked by a grand festivity with a parade.
Back in the day, it was difficult to travel to the city centre and even transportation of the rides and merchandise was difficult.
In 1945, the Comité de la Foire was founded, and initiatives such as the "Family" Day stem from this time after the Second World War.
One difference compared to today was that people came to dance at the Schueberfouer in the evening, which was an important place for teenagers to meet, as there were not many cafes or other places for them to go back then. On the other side of this dancing area, there was the "Tirol" space for older generations, playing folk music. After the Second World War, they changed its name (and no longer invited German merchants for a while, until only after 1951).
Other Schueberfouer attractions from back then were magician acts, boxing shows, variety shows, acrobats and a 45 metre-tall Ferris wheel. In 1960, the Rotor (the gravity-defying ride that spins and suspends visitors to the wall) had its debut at the Schueberfouer, only returning again in 1970. The Bayern Kurve (train-like amusement ride moving around a banked circular track) debuted in 1968, with the after-ski and winter-themed decoration typical of rides from the 1960s. The arrival of certain big attractions caused a stir because they made their debut at the Schueberfouer (such as the Super Railway in 1965, the first roller coaster ride). A classic was the Calypso ride made by Mack (Europapark), which returned from 1960 until 1987 with its various decorations.
Mister Filippa, a historian from the University of Luxembourg, reminisced about the Schueberfouer cafes and said he has the dancing parlor to thank for having been born, as his parents met during an evening of dancing at the Schueberfouer. He remembered a small building where the police used to be located for the occasion of the Schueberfouer, which later disappeared. He also said that certain shops started out exhibiting their goods at the Schueberfouer stands before opening boutiques in the city centre. Back then, the Schueberfouer was muddy when it rained (more ecological, someone in the crowd added), but the Bayern Kurve was already an attraction then, and so was the ghost train we still know today (although the King Kong apparition that frightened him is long gone). Mister Filipa also noted that when he was a child, the Schueberfouer was the place to ride horses, to buy pet birds and goldfish. One could also get dressed in different outfits and get photos taken, which he enjoyed doing very much, but his parents were opposed.
Colette Flesch, mayor of Luxembourg City in 1970, also reminisced about the 1960s and the Schueberfouer at the time. She recalled that Luxembourg tried a new addition every year, whether folklore, music groups from France or majorettes (one club still exists in Esch-sur-Alzette), and a big parade was an annual occurrence - one year they even paraded the animals from a nearby zoo. When she was mayor, Colette Flesch started the "exceptional openings" whereby she "borrowed two children from friends to start off" and by the end of her career as mayor, she had 20 children joining her on the Schueberfouer tour. In 1980, the elaborate festivities with parades ceased.
Lianne Majerus spoke about the "garderie" (child-minding services) founded in 1960 for the children running around the Schueberfouer because their parents were working all day until the late evening. Lianne Majerus joined these services as a childminder for 36 years. She said: "We did arts and crafts all holiday long. It could not look like school: we went to the sports hall, the Bambesch forest, they were taken back at 18:00." Eventually, the association was able to go on trips to the Bettembourg Park financed by the Lotterie Nationale and the Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande Duchesse Charlotte, and a swimming teacher accompanied them to the swimming pool. In 1976, the service became an asbl. "Parents asked us to tutor the children, but that was not possible since it was the summer holiday," Lianne Majerus added.
Laurent Schwaller, who is in charge of the Department of Public Spaces, Festivals and Markets of the City of Luxembourg (Ville de Luxembourg - VdL), discussed the major changes brought to the Schueberfouer over the years. An important one was the change of building material from wood to steel, and when the Schueberfouer was asphalted (in the 1970s). The festival organiser nowadays has to evaluate over 500 applications for the Schueberfouer and works together with many services, including security concepts and planning the locations as well as welcoming the merchants. During the fair, he also gets involved in technical care. The Schueberfouer is unique in this form, Laurent Schwaller said. "It is a unique mix that originated back then," he added, referring to the 1960s.
This year's Schueberfouer runs from 23 August to 11 September 2023. The traditional fireworks display will bring this edition to a close on the last evening, on Monday 11 September 2023; visitors on the last day can also enjoy the various attractions at half the usual price.