Carousel enthusiasts rallying at Lake Winnie

The carousel at Lake Winnepesaukah was built in 1916 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. It features 68 hand-carved and hand-painted horses, and no two are alike.
The carousel at Lake Winnepesaukah was built in 1916 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. It features 68 hand-carved and hand-painted horses, and no two are alike.

About 40 members of the Carousel Organ Association of America are coming from 12 states - as far away as Kansas, Minnesota and Florida - to enjoy the antique carousel at Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park and to entertain guests with their own organ grinders.

The COAA rally will be held Saturday-Monday, May 26-28, at the Rossville, Georgia, park. The COAA is an international group of about 900 members across the U.S. as well as Europe, England, Australia and Japan.

They are dedicated to preserving and sharing knowledge about all types of mechanical-musical instruments. They call the sound made by these tinkling instruments "the happiest music on earth."

"They will be bringing at least two large carousel organs and 18 crank organs to the park," says COAA member Ted Guillaum of Nashville.

"Most of the organs will be of European design and come from Holland, Germany, Austria and England as well as the United States."

The rally isn't just for COAA members' enjoyment, but park visitors, too.

Around 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the COAA members will line up near the lake stage and play "crank-organ concerts" for park guests.

"Visitors will have the opportunity to see and hear over $100,000-$125,000 worth of mechanical instruments," Guillaum says. "The remainder of the time, the organs will be scattered throughout the park where you can visit with each owner, ask questions and perhaps crank an organ."

This is the 14th rally to be held at Lake Winnie, says Guillaum.

"The Lake Winnie carousel and organ are very historical. It is a fine example of what you could have experienced at amusement parks 100 years ago," Guillaum says

Lake Winnie spokeswoman Talley Green says, "Lake Winnie's Carrousel - we use the European spelling with two Rs - was built in 1916 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. It features 68 hand-carved and hand-painted horses. No two are alike. The carrousel also features two ornate chariots and hand-painted murals that form the canopy."

The Lake Winnie rally is the first of five for COAA members this summer, and the only one in the South. Guillaum says although many of the COAA events take place in the northeastern parts of the U.S., members enjoy the Lake Winnie rally because it gives them a chance to present their mechanical-music instruments to people in a region where these kinds of instruments are not as common.

The COAA afternoon concerts are free and are included in park admission of $34.95 plus tax.

For more information: 706-866-5681.