200 years

Bonn University celebrates at Poppelsdorf campus

Ariane und Julia auf dem Sommerfest.

Ariane and Julia at the summer festival.

Bonn. The University Summer Festival at the Poppelsdorf campus invited all Bonn residents to experience concerts, readings and hands-on activities in perfect weather. The highlight was a soapbox car race.

Music everywhere, the best summer weather and lots of Bonn residents tinkering, feasting and dancing: the University Summer Festival at the Poppelsdorf Campus was well attended on Saturday. Citizens, students and members of the university had put together a varied programme in the spirit of Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan, who said at the opening with Rector Michael Hoch, that the university wanted to open for the city and all the citizens.

The campus festival was part of the celebrations for this year’s 200-year anniversary of Bonn University. The anniversary’s slogan “Our earth. Our region. Our city. Us” was also evidenced at the summer festival. During the event, food sharing bags with leftover food from supermarkets and sustainable drinking cups were distributed.

All visitors were welcomed during lunchtime by the University of Bonn International Choir, which could be heard from afar. The group of German and international students sang in Swahili, Japanese and Bulgarian. On the neighbouring stage, local bands like Perry Air from Niederkassel played.

The Steinmann Institute for Geology had set up a slate mine in which visitors set off in search of fossils. At other stands, it was explained how bees make honey. People planted sunflowers or watched football robots in action. Lacrosse was played all day on the sport field, there were Zumba-Flashmobs in front of the main stage and in between you could “fill up on cellulose” at the smoothie bar.

There was a real highlight during lunchtime: 24 teams took part in a soapbox race and roared off the start line along the 75 metre long track. Each of the two drivers competed against each other in the categories school, family, company/university and Bonn. A winner was announced in each category at the end.

There was an expert hiding among the spectators at the track. Heinz Helmut Schäfer participated in soapbox racing as far away as America in 1959. After winning the German Championship in Duisburg, he was runner-up in the World Championships in Soapbox racing in Ohio. His grandson, Luis Schäfer, was now driving the red and yellow soapbox car, which had been stored in a shed for fifty years, for the first time. “I built the soapbox car with my father. At the time it was a really popular sport. Of course, it’s great that my grandson is now driving it.”

Original text: Eva Kunkel. Translation: kc