Spring 2015 Report from Vintage Band Festival

Great news since the fall 2014 report was sent out:

  • The VBF received a First Place Award, Non-Profits, for our presence in the 2014 Defeat of Jesse James Parade last September! We had the Bridge Square Band riding on a hayrack and pulled by a tractor, following several WW II military vehicles carrying veterans. We expect to continue our participation in this event to honor veterans and provide brass band music.
  • It is with a sense of satisfaction that we report that with your help we have raised over 80% of the funds needed to pay off our debt from the 2013 four day festival. We expect to have our 2013 financial debt fully paid off by August 2015. In addition, the VBF produced a very enjoyable one-day mini festival in August 2014 on Bridge Square.
  • The VBF board researched and leased an excellent donor management program. “Kindful” is a terrific tool to help us do more efficient fund raising and data management. Donors now have access to their own donation data plus the program enables easier communication with our loyal supporters.

What we are doing in 2015:

  • Multiple grant applications have been made and more are in progress. These grants are for both our August 1, 2015 one-day festival and our 2016 four-day festival, July 28-31.
  • Board members who are available meet weekly to work on our funding and planning. The official board meetings are once per month with full attendance.
  • We are communicating with the City of Northfield to schedule the August 1 event, close down streets, set up the Northfield Rotary Club Showmobile (Wenger) and other matters, including insurance and permits.
  • The board negotiates with other non- profit organizations we share the square with during our festivals, including Riverwalk Market Fair and Northfield Downtown Development Corporation.
  • Committees are being developed and filled for the 2015 and 2016 festivals.
  • Bands continue to ask about our festivals and ask perform in them. Time is required to vet them.
  • Funding is being sought for new bands and for favorites as well as well as funds for general operations. This is primarily donations but also advertising dollars.
  • Looking for new partners to expand our audience and share the expenses and work load.
  • Small groups and individual board members are making personal visits to individuals, businesses, and non-profits for VBF targeted fundraising.

VBF auxiliary programs in 2015

The first was on April 12 at the Northfield Senior Center, recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln. The St. Olaf Manitou Regimental Band accompanied a Civil War sing-a-long at 3 PM in the Senior Center Theater Room. Prior to the music St. Olaf Pastor Emeritus, Bruce Benson, shared Lincoln’s immortal words from the Second Inaugural Address. We partnered with the Northfield Senior Center and the Cannon Valley Civil War Round Table. The Northfield Senior Center and the Cannon Valley Civil War Round Table supported the expenses for this event. In period dress, Jan Stevens, the VBF President, introduced the performers. That same week Northfield’s Bridge Square Band (a VBF regular) played in Civil War dress for an April 14th Northfield Historical Society re-enactment of “Our American Cousin” to commemorate the anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre.

This fall there will be three Vintage Band programs scheduled on September 28, October 26 and November 23 at 3:15 PM in the Northfield Retirement Center Community Chapel (which will also be broadcast to shut-ins.) The same day the programs will each be presented a second time at 7 PM at the Senior Center with dessert and coffee afterwards. The Northfield Senior Center is providing space, funding, publicity and refreshments for the programs. The VBF provides the programming. Our plan is to continue year-round programming on vintage band music with historical and social context.

While the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War is ended, we will continue to provide Civil War Music at the festivals. Brass Band Music from the WW I era as well as period Jazz and Swing will be added to our programming. The VBF Board has established a relationship with the 34th Infantry Division Band (the Red Bull Band) of the Minnesota National Guard based in Rosemount, MN. Various ensembles from the Red Bulls will be participating in our upcoming festivals, including jazz, historical, and show bands. We plan to add a special program honoring our military veterans at our mini-festivals as well as continuing our special performances at the Northfield Veterans’ Memorial and cemeteries in Northfield and Cannon Falls during our big festivals. Two Board Members are active in Minnesota Civil War Round Tables. This relationship is building a new audience for the VBF as the 150th Civil War Anniversary Activities are coming to an end.

Since WW I, military bands have not had a role during military action. Bands are used for troop ceremonies and public relations. These military bands are in danger of severe reduction nationally because of budget stresses, while public school music programs are also suffering reductions. The VBF works to provide our community with live music and recognize the institutions that create this music.

Partnering with other organizations in our community and our state is a great way to continue the joy and excitement of the Vintage Band Festivals all year around. We think this is a reasonable and practical way to continue and to expand this splendid festival. The VBF Board Members feel called to expand the impact and enjoyment of vintage band music. The combination of top quality live music, history and pageantry is thrilling and engaging!