Ochusjob, Chiapas, Chariot 1982 photo by Antonio Turok


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July 2017: Retake on June Press Release: Someone will catch the brass ring, a very good thing!
ring catcheer take-up frame right angle drive bases
Even with enthusiasm and momentum anticipating a great adventure south to find a home for MGR#10, an alternative, just as interesting, popped up. MGR#10 is headed this summer to the Hudson River Valley to participate in the amazing Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze of Croton-on-Hudson, New York (43 miles north of New York City).

As 2017 began carouselmaker Bill Dentzel assumed he was going to be setting up the wonderful portable, steel trailer centerpole MGR#8 once again at the Port Townsend Festival of Wooden Boats in Point Hudson harbor the second weekend of Septrmber. Gradually the year began unfolding in surprising ways as events and directions evolved. Funny though, this fall will still have a carousel event on the Hudson, although river instead of point, east instead of west. The carousel will need to be on the Hudson by mid August to begin the decoration process. This requires double checking all components, building a few new parts, packing, and driving east across the USA, soon.

At the moment MGR#10 is fully operable as a rope pull device, a method dating back over 1000 years. The wooden centerpole and hand-crank "flying horses" style of this carousel is taken right out of an 18th or early 19th century design drawing. It is in the process of having the long awaited drivetrain completed with a simple hand crank in the center of the mechanism. The drivetrain can easily be retro fitted with an electiric motor if needed, for now the hand-crank will do.

MGR#10 has 8 animals and one double swan chariot. (Boar, Cougar, Deer, Bunny, Horse, Froggie, Kangaroo, Skunk). Included with the ride is a classic brass ring dispenser (photo above) for those who would like to learn and play this game. For the Blaze event the carousel will be giving rides to pumpkins. In the future perhaps it will be children, in New York or perhaps a faraway sister city or village. All systems go, coming around third base and headed for home plate, only 3000 miles to the east.

MGR#8 will remain in the Port Townsend carousel yard, wrapped up and quietly parked awaiting orders for its next adventure, which may now be the roads south of the border. Two more animals will have to be made as the horse and froggie jumped ship and are now with MGR#10, not a problem. Making two new animals for that machine will be more than fun!

June 2017: Press Release

MGR10 high view


Instead of preparing for another run at the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, Team Village Carousel is regrouping this summer with a vision to journey south, south of the border, into Mexico. The quiet safety of Port Townsend will fad in the rearview mirror as a silver cargo/camper van with tow rolls the roads leading to Chiapas. The quest is to find a compatible and loving venue/home for MGR#10 (Merry-Go-Round Ten).

During the summer one Dentzel carousel activity has been to gather volunteers and supporters to help set-up and fund the operation of the carousel at the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, not this year. A redirection of energy is allowing the elaboration of a longtime-in-the-making carousel project with slightly longer legs. MGR#10, the tenth carousel built by Bill Dentzel since 1982, will be on a similar journey as the earlier (1981-82) MGR#1. MGR#1 continues to operate in the village schoolyard of Ochusjob, Chiapas, Mexico (near Comitán). The map for this next journey south of MGR#10 into Mexico is only yet marked in the clouds and mist, but eventually something will appear on the www.dentzel.com website. The carousel is currently viewable in its travelling mode at Bill’s workshop at 53rd Street, Port Townsend WA packed into the sheepherders trailer that will be transporting it.

The highways and roads back to Chiapas will be the search path, perhaps the appropriate site is found along the way, there are also several possible options in Chiapas. Throughout Mexico there are many underserved indigenous villages and community centers in need of more attention. A carousel benefits children, families, all generations, as have MGRs#1 through #9 for the past 35 years.

MGR#10 is a classic centuries-old style “flying horses” carousel with the equally time honored ring-toss game. The menagerie of animals is built in the traditional wooden hollow body construction style, each with glass eyes. They rotate hanging from sweeps on a circular frame suspended from a large thrust bearing at the top of the wooden centerpole. Scenic panels mount on the perimeter of the frame and also adorn the centerpole; they will be decoratively painted later in Mexico. In addition to the eight animals there is a double chariot and five swing seats that together carry a total of 15 riders.

There is no shortage of operators. Regardless of the power method of the moment it always seems that someone, be it young person or adult, wants to make the carousel go round. There are usually several motor options, the most basic and ancient being the “rope-pull”; a rope hanging down from a sweep to walk or pull the carousel around, eventually momentum takes over. Depending on the particular set-up there can also be a hand-crank, foot-pedal, or electric motor. The other job of the operator is to see that the rings for the ring catching game are collected and reloaded into the ring dispenser at the end of each ride cycle, that job is often enthusiastically done by additional voluntary assistants in exchange for rides.

Finding a home for this carousel will entail making some sort of deal with a new owner, it could simply be a cash sale, or perhaps a trade of some sort. Mr. Dentzel is considering the establishment of a workshop and studio where younger artisans can learn the art of carousel making and decorating, a space for this could be part of the deal. The bottom line is that this carousel is a classic fully functional fun ride made in the centuries old “flying horses” style, it is durable and will last indefinitely and must have a home. The United States appears to be a bit over developed to appreciate such devices therefore Mexico is the obvious nearby best choice.

The completion of the carousel with a pavilion is a labor of love and a powerful statement to the children of the world; simple, traditional, handmade, fun things count, and they know it. In the adult world there is not a great market for carousels, they just don’t fit in well enough with the fast paced, high tech scheme of modern American life. Yet in practice they are an exciting and enjoyable complimentary contrast to the digital world children are immersed in. Nevertheless, small efforts such as this remain outside the norm and are rarely seen. Mexico is less regulated and more accustomed and appreciative of traditional handmade consumer items, therefore…once again…head south.

It will cost some thousands of dollars to make this southward journey pulling the carousel inside its trailer towed behind a travel van. Some sort of fund raising should really happen, that too is a matter of organizing. Perhaps you would like to see more of this kind of sharing happen, if so lend a hand; help organize a fund raiser, make a donation, join the caravan and come along to help find a village. All contact information is available at www.dentzel.com. This is an adventure with a goal of goodness for an as yet unknown site in our challenging world.

MGR10 chariot view

February 2017: William Dentzel revisits carousel in Ochusjob, Chiapas, Mexico; in operation for 35 years.

Ochusjpb February 2017


November 2014: Latest "animal", airplane named "Olive Oyl".

Olive Oyl


September 2014: Video of operation and ring catching game (1 minute 9 seconds) at 2014 Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.