Here we used to throw sticks into the trees


3600 Genk

Winterslag used to be full of Chestnut trees.

Loosely translated, the word ‘bengelen’ in local dialect means to find a stick of an appropriate size and throw it at chestnuts that are still hanging in a tree in hopes that they will fall. In the past this activity was popular with kids and teens and closely watched by the local authorities. It was somewhat dangerous, because what went up had to come down! The best place to bengelen was on the Margarethalaan, a long avenue in Winterslag that was lined with Chestnut trees. Because of a tree sickness, in the 1980s nearly every Chestnut tree was cut down in Winterslag.

This project brought the concept of ‘bengelen’ back to the neighbourhood by placing nearly 80 fake chestnuts (bells) back into trees on the Margarethalaan. Now people who used to bengelen in the 1950s can tell their stories and the activity can once again be practiced; passed on from grandparents to children and grandchildren.