Category Archives: VBF 2023

The Northfield City Band of 1917

In the VBF 2022 Official Program, the Northfield Historical Society placed an ad with a picture of a community band from the early 20th century. The bass drum in the picture had the words “Northfield Minnesota City Band” painted on it. No one on the VBF board had ever seen the photograph before and a couple of members decided to track down the provenance of the photo and the occasion for which the band posed for the photographer. The photograph was found on the Northfield-Rice County History Collection, a digital collaboration by nearly 20 Rice County entities with archival collections, including the Northfield Historical Society.

Jeff Sauve, the curator of the Northfield Historical Society at the time, gave the VBF Marketing Committee permission to use the photograph and the decision was subsequently made to put it on the cover of the 2023 Official Program.

According to the Northfield News of June 24, 1980, the band in the photograph was chosen to play at the Grandstand of the Minnesota State Fair, about 1917. The photograph was taken outside the grandstand. The band members were identified as follows: Left to right, front row: Pete Johnson, Art Sunde, Merril Lawrence, George Mohn, Hjalmar Berge, Lawrence Emmons, Leonard Obrech, Eugene Lee, Lester Batson, Carl Gulbrandson, Robert Babcock, Norman Lende, George LaPointe; back row: Bernard Gimmestad, Roy Palmer, Theodore Carel, Roman Berke, Pat Brown, Al Haue, William Dunn, unidentified, Leon Neulen, Walter Fink, Earl Page and Harry Emmons.

Thanks to Jeff Sauve and the Northfield Historical Society for allowing us to use the photograph in our 2023 marketing efforts.

Vintage Band Festival announces Wenger Foundation gift

The Wenger Foundation has been a financial supporter of Vintage Band Festival since the festival’s inception in 2006. Recently, the Foundation ended its 40-year mission of supporting arts organizations in the state of Minnesota. In a letter sent to Vintage Band Festival explaining this development in its philanthropic life cycle, the Wenger Foundation also enclosed a very generous check for $20,000. This was a completely unforeseen gift from our lovely friends in Crystal Bay, Minnesota.

Wendy Wenger Dankey, a member of the Foundation’s board of directors, explained, “It has been a great run as an arts funder and as a family foundation, but all things change over time and we have reached our finale. I really send our good wishes for a sustainable and successful future! We really do hope you have many more years of successful Festivals!”

It can honestly be said that without the many years of support from the Wenger Foundation, Vintage Band Festival would not have continued beyond the first festival in 2006. The support came not only in the consistent funding, but also in the inspiration and encouragement that the Wenger board of directors passed along to the Vintage Band Festival board of directors.

The final Wenger gift will allow Vintage Band Festival the opportunity to envision long-term financial sustainability. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting possibility in the coming days.

Vintage Band Festival on the radio

Recently, two members of the Vintage Band Festival board joined Jeff Johnson on his morning radio show to talk about Vintage Band Festival 2023 this summer on Saturday, July 29.

Dan and Randy talked about the upcoming one-day festival and the band roster for the day. Highlights include the first appearance at VBF of the Minnesota Pipes and Drums, a band that focuses on honoring Scottish musical traditions and the return of the 34th Division Regimental Band “The Red Bull Band.”

Thanks to Jeff Johnson for the opportunity to spread a little VBF love!

Listen to the complete interview at this link:

Vintage Band Festival announces lineup for the 2023 event on July 29

The music at Vintage Band Festival 2023 in Northfield, Minnesota will begin at 9:00 am and continue without interruption until 10:00 pm. Twelve bands from an array of musical genres will perform on the Wenger stage in Bridge Square throughout the day on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

One highlight of the day will be the first appearance at Vintage Band Festival of the Minnesota Pipes and Drums, a nationally recognized competition and performance bagpipe and drum corps based in Minneapolis. Their mission is “to carry on the rich history and heritage of Scottish music”.

Two bands will be returning to perform after lengthy absences: Brass Messengers and the 34th Division Regimental Band, “The Red Bull Band”. Brass Messengers is a street band from Minneapolis whose music originated in the Balkans, Africa and the Caribbean and the band last performed at Vintage Band Festival in 2010. The Red Bull Band is the musical cohort of the 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army, “The Red Bulls”, and currently part of the Minnesota National Guard. They have been deployed on missions around the world and last performed at Vintage Band Festival in 2019.

Other musical traditions represented at Vintage Band Festival 2023 will be New Orleans-style brass, German brass, an all-trumpet choir, a mariachi band, British-style brass, Mexican banda music, and a swinging big band to round out the evening.

Sharing Bridge Square with Vintage Band Festival 2023 is Riverwalk Market Fair. Every Saturday from May -October this weekly gathering features local artists selling their wares including pottery, jewelry, carved wood, granite charcuterie boards, and more. A rich array of local food is available and farmers will be offering products such as organically grown vegetables, seasonal jams, freshly baked breads, yarn spun from their own sheep’s wool, and goat milk soap.

Vintage Band Festival 2023 is free and open to the public. A blanket or folding chair is highly recommended for comfort. Stop by for an hour or stay for the day!

For the complete schedule of performances and important updates, visit For more information about Northfield, visit

Vintage Band Festival receives SEMAC grant


Last month Vintage Band Festival received a $10,000 grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council in support of the forthcoming one-day festival in 2023. We are honored to have our application approved and grateful

The intended use of the grant is to build on the efforts made in the summer of 2022 to assist seniors with safe transportation to and from the outdoor venues at Vintage Band Festival and seating during the performances. Several other community partners worked with VBF on this project and the hope is that they will do so again next summer. These partners included the Northfield Retirement Community, Three Links Care Center, Benedictine Living Communities, the City of Northfield, and Age-Friendly Northfield.

Other Rice County  recipients of SEMAC grants in the most recent cycle include: Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra, Carleton College, Northfield Arts Guild, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, Northfield Troubadors, and Paradise Center for the Arts.

In November 2008, Minnesotans passed the clean water, land, and legacy amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.  As a result, over the next twenty-five years, a small portion of the state’s sales tax will be dedicated to: a clean water fund, an outdoor heritage fund, a parks and trails fund, and an arts and cultural heritage fund.

Proceeds from the arts and cultural heritage fund “may be spent only on arts, arts education and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.”