In the district of Elsdries in Melle, the 50th anniversary of the Elsdries fair was celebrated with a procession of the Melle giants and the Confrerie van de Roze Olifant. “Mapoe and Ruut are two folk figures who used to live in Melle. Mapoe, for example, had a cafe for a long time. The entire Elsdries committee was honored.
Melle: Elsdries, a rich history…
Long ago, our Elsdries district consisted of large farms and roads. In Melle we knew Grote Elsdries (the present Dries) and Kleine Elsdries (the present Elsdries). Elsdries refers to a swamp planted with alder trees.
From the 1950s, more buildings were built and (Kleine) Elsdries grew into a real residential area. In the 1960s, 5 cafes were active in the quarter, and there were already quarter fairs. In the early 1970s, young people in the Schauwegemstraat organized themselves youth activities during the holidays. This was the start of a neighborhood operation! An undeveloped plot of land in the Schauwegemstraat was made available by architect De Cuyper as a playground. Playing afternoons were organized and a club was formed which included Rudy De Bruycker, Christiaan Van Den Berghe, Luc Versnaeyen, Linda Bekaert and Christel De Vos. Linda is still active as a board member. Back then there was a lot of attention on football. The mothers competed against the daughters. They played the first official match during the “Get Over the Use” festivities. The mini-football tournament at the current Kermis is a nod to those times and took place for the first time in 2005.
In 1970, under the impulse of André Van Overmeire, a few adults founded one selection with Walther Vandenheede as chairman, vice-chairmen Octaaf De Bruycker and Roger Van Den Berghe as secretary Remi Bekaert, treasurer Gerard Schelstraete and technical advisor André Van Overmeire.
The brand new committee coordinated the activities of the young people, adults and the elderly. With a minimal budget (obtained from youth activities) in 1971, after a long time, a 1tea fair organized. Since then, the fair has been an annual activity in our neighborhood (except in 2020 and 2021 due to the Corona pandemic) and is known far and wide. Photo flag
In 1979, a drawing competition was organized on Youth Day in August. The task for the 12-year-olds was to draw a flag for the neighbourhood. Annelies Versyp, daughter of Nolle Versyp, was responsible for the winning design. The flag was raised on the 10th of 1980that fair dedicated under the sponsorship of Hendrik Heyndrickx and Denise van Gansberghe.
In 1981 the municipal council bought one of the 2 plots and the clubhouse was fitted out with new sanitary facilities
The Board of Directors in 1982: Standing from left to right: Roger Gezels, Roger Van Den Berghe, Walther Vandenheede, Gilbert De Roeve, Albert (Berke) De Winne, Georges Poelman. Seated from left to right: Chris Van den Berghe, Jo Dick, Gilbert Van Maele, Remi Bekaert
The giants Ruut and Mapoe visit the fair in the 1980s.
The real Mapoe had a cafe on the corner of Vossenstraat and Gontrode Heirweg.
Today we have children’s entertainment and children’s jogging at the fair for the children. We also look after Sint and Pieten in the neighborhood, and there is a pancake party in February.
We would also like to thank Gerarda Poelman for the many years in which she supported the work for the elderly. She succeeded her mother-in-law Julia De Witte in this role.
The board in 1988: Standing from left to right: Ronny Bolangier, Sam Schatteman, Gilbert Van Maele, Johan Dhondt, Jo Dick, Luc Batjoens. Seated from left to right: Georges Poelman, Remi Bekaert, Walther Vandenheede, Jozef Van Hoorde.
The ladies helping in 1988: standing left to right: Linda Bekaert, Els Van Gysegem, Martine Van De Walle, Nicole De Rivière, Mia Taelman, Peggy Spruyt, Denise Van Damme. Seated from left to right: Gerarda Poelman, Julia De Witte, José Buyse, Georgette Helderweirde, Maria Spiessens
In 1990 “James Last” and his orchestra came to the 20th anniversary. The grounds behind the clubhouse were cleared in 1991 and furnished with toys.
In 1992, Gilbert Van Maele became chairman and succeeded Walther Vandenheede. At the fairs there were cards, shooters on the tilt, bicycle races and coffee tables with the musical guests “The Wilcomets”.
In 1995, 25 years of the fair were celebrated in and around the tent in the clubroom on the corner of Beek-en Schauwegemstraat. It was a 2 weekend party. For this fair, a jogging track, a trip to the amusement park “Meli”, a covered carriage ride for children with a fire-breathing dragon, a barbecue, an aperitif concert and a celebration of the Eucharist were organized.
The clubhouse had to be demolished in 1999. In 2000 we were unfortunately confronted with the sale of Poelman’s and the municipality’s land. Since then we have been using it school area and the school buildings in the Beekstraat (first Malpertuus elementary school (community education), then Lucerna College), later we could play cards and meet in the OCMW room in the Schauwegemstraat. After the disappearance of the dining hall and other classrooms at Lucerna College (in 2016), the collaboration with the municipal elementary school was established and we could continue our dinner parties there until Corona put everything ‘on hold’.
The fair in 2010 (40 years of the fair) was memorable with its beach party. In the period 2006-2011, Jo Dick took over the role of chairman from Gilbert Van Maele due to his chairmanship of OCMW. Afterwards, Gilbert resumed the presidency.
In 2018, Lucien Van Bockstaele and Roger Rombout took over the Monday afternoon tickets from Gerarda. Over the past 10 years, the committee has also organized a New Year’s reception, dew trip and the clam chowder. In addition to attention to children, there was also special attention to the elderly. We organize a senior meal for them.
In 2019, Gilbert finally passed the torch to Pascal De Rop.
In the meantime, the Park School has been built and we hope to be able to further develop our activities there together with the municipality. The use of the meeting room in the OCMW on the Schauwegemstraat is also interrupted, so that (for now) there will be no more card afternoons and our meetings continue ‘at home’ with our board members. A solution via the Kleine Havertuin is on its way.
The round numbers (10 years, 25 years, 35 years, 40 years and now also 50 years) in our association have always received extra attention. These fairs were and are accompanied by tributes. We hope that our program of 50 years of Elsdries will also give rise to memorable moments. Due to Corona, we have not been able to organize a fair for 2 years, so we are now celebrating for 2020, 2021 and 2022!
We would like to thank all board members, former board members, their business partners and all volunteers for their efforts.
We extend a special thank you to the municipality, its board, administrative and technical staff, police, fire service and not least all authorities, self-employed, companies, artists and sympathizers who have made our operation possible by granting permits. , cooperation, good advice and assistance and a range of different accommodation options. We certainly do not forget to thank the many sponsors who have supported us financially or materially through thick and thin for years!
Who would like to contribute to this unique neighborhood effect are very welcome!