the Mini Giant Gambrinus 1974
On October 6, 1974, during the Hop Festival, the spectators in the procession were introduced to a newcomer, a mini Giant named "Gambrinus".Gambrinus". Carried by one person, 2.50m high and weighing 25kg, Gambrinus was made of cardboard and other makeshift materials by Pascal Cnockaert and Jean Yves Cnapelynck, two fifteen-year-old members of the Société Philharmonique.
At the time, Jean Yves' father was restoring the head of the Giant Jan den Houtkapper. Our two companions attended the event live, reinforcing their attraction to the world of giants.
These young enthusiasts took their inspiration for Gambrinus from the sign medallion of a local estaminet "A Gambrinus".
Three years later, with the help of Michel Moithé, Dominique Dewaele and Jean-Paul Duvet, our mini Giant grew up, and on October 2, 1977, during the twelfth hop festival, he weighed in at 110 kg and 4.80 m in the procession through town.
Hop Festival - October 5, 1975
From that day on, "Gambrinus" regularly appears at hop festivals, mardi gras and local events. He takes his heavy carcass around the region: Lille, Arras, Tourcoing, Wattignies, Bailleul, Neuwpoort, Cassel..
Summer Carnival - April 27, 1980
In 1977, the friends of Gambrinus joined the fledgling association "La Ronde des Géants", in which they played an active part and hosted the general meeting in April 1979 in Steenvoorde Steenvoorde.
La Ronde des Géants works for the rebirth and revival of giants. In 1980 under the impetus of their young president Pascal Cnockaert, the Friends of Gambrinus revived "La Belle-Hélène".La Belle-Hélène"Historical Giant of the 19th century Steevoordois Mi-Carême festivities; with contributions from Dominique Dewaele for the structure of the Giant, and Augustine Haverbeque and Sister Jeanne-Marie Queste for the Clothing.
In January 2010 the "Indicateur des Flandres" reported that
"Les Amis de Gambrinus joined the Ronde des Géants association, which noted the disappearance of giants in the North. "There were only 70 left in 1976," recalls the former president and founder of Les Amis de Gambrinus. Following the alarmist meetings of the Ronde des Géants, the Friends of Gambrinus decided to do their bit by reviving the ancestor of the Steenvoord giants, the Belle Hélène. Pascal Cnockaert remembers discovering her story in a column by Geo Hennebelle. He then set off in search of elements that would enable him to give new life to the beauty, inspired by a flower seller, present on the markets.
"We drew on our oral heritage, interviewing old-timers who had seen La Belle Hélène on parade. She had several nicknames. Many called her the mannequin... Les Amis de Gambrinus then gave birth, "without a plan, without a net", to a pretty young woman with an angelic face, her hair knotted in a red bob, "more Flemish than the straw hat recounted by the old-timers". In 1980, La Belle Hélène made her first appearance at the summer carnival. But cohabitation with the other association of giants proved stormy. Les Amis de Fromulus, organizers of the summer carnival, did not include La Belle Hélène in the procession in 1981. No matter, the Friends of Gambrinus joined the parade with a hearse in protest. Since then, La Belle Hélène has become one of the city's giants."
Le corbillard de la Belle Hélène - April 26, 1981
This was the era of joint outings with "Gambrinus", such as the gathering of Giants organized for the fiftieth anniversary of the Lille belfry on June 20, 1982 or again, on May 15, 1983, when Guillaume de Mortagne, the Tourcoing Giant, welcomed some thirty of his fellows to his home. Because of his weight, Gambrinus requires castors to relieve the load on the carriers, and since Gambrinus' friends want to respect the tradition of carrying Giants, Gambrinus Prince of Hops and King of Beer was released for the last time on October 7, 1990.
Fiftieth anniversary of the Lille belfry
At that time, La Belle Hélène became the ambassador of the association "Les Amis de Gambrinus" and a worthy representative of the tradition of Giants carried in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region.
On November 14, 2004, the association changed its name to "Les Amis de Gambrinus la Belle Hélène" Hélène", with Dominique Dewaele officially appointed president.
For its 25th anniversary in 2005, la Belle Hélène was entirely recreated by Laurent Wadier, aka Machu, Géant's Roubaix letter carrier.
At 2015on the occasion of the second Ducasse de Géants portés, the musical piece "Belle Hélène" was unveiled, performed by the Philharmonie de Steenvoorde and composed by its director Nicolas Decroix on the very special occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Géante, and destined to be its anthem.
References and sources: Bulletin Officiel Municipal 3ème trimestre (1964) -Bulletin Officiel Municipal N° 2 (1970) - Steenvoorde Info N°4 Juin (1994) - Revue Le Lion de Flandre Artois Boulonnais Hainaut N° 30 Juin (1943) - Jean Yves Cnapelynck, photo archive (Carnaval de Steenvoorde 1950 et 1951) - L'homme qui fabrique des géants, Nord-France (1948) - La Ballade des Géants de la Flandre maritine Française, Maurice Millon (1970) - Indicateur des Flandre, April 1979 - Indicateur des Flandres, Geo Hennebelle - Voix du Nord Hazebrouck, April 1981 - Patrimoine oral, audio recording:Georges Delaeter et Michel Haverbeque (1979) - Fiche PCI en France - Géants du Nord/Pas-de-Calais, Robert Chaussois (1998) - Dictionnaire des Géants du nord de la France, Gérard Tourpier (2007) - Gigantia, Un Mundo de Gigantes (2021) - Web archives: geant-belle-helene-org - les-amis-de-fromulus.com - mcsteenvoordois.fr - musique-steenvoorde.fr.
There are no sources that are never wrong, and no sources that are always wrong.