Category Archives: VBF News

Meet the VBF 2024 bands: The Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band

The Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band from St. Paul, Minnesota was established in 1962 to preserve and advance Celtic piping, drumming, and dancing. They are one of the oldest existing pipe bands in the Upper Midwest. Over the years the Brian Boru Band has become a fixture in parades, celebrations, dances, and an increasing number of private festivities. They play for local, regional, and national events, adding a sense of tradition and spirit of pageantry to every program in which we participate The band has performed with the Chieftains, Green Day, Blink-182 and Rod Stewart as well as local acts like The Northerly Gales, Wookiefoot and Mactir Academy of Irish Dance.

The distinctive Irish uniforms — the saffron kilt, black tunic, and black cabeen (beret) with green or red plumes — are modeled after traditional Irish pipe bands. A number of the band members wear the original brass buttons from uniforms of the Irish Volunteers, the very units involved in the historic Easter Uprising in Dublin, 1916. Officers of the Brian Boru Band, recognized by the distinctive red sash worn across their left shoulder, choose the tunes you hear.

Some of the music performed by the Brian Boru Band came out of that fierce era of Ireland’s past. Other pieces are more modern, and many are much, much older — ancient reels and airs, timeless ballads and war marches, and lively, lighthearted jigs.

Every member of the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band is a volunteer, and each performance represents hours of personal time dedicated to providing our listeners with the finest pipe and drum music available.

The Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band will perform at 12:00 pm on July 27 at VBF 2024. See the complete schedule on the Vintage Band Festival website.

Vintage Band Festival 2024 fund drive

We have just mailed our spring fund drive letters. If you’re a past donor, look for one in your mailbox in the coming days. If you are just learning about Vintage Band Festival or you haven’t yet donated to support our work, read on to find out how you can do that.

The generous and loyal financial support from businesses, foundations and individuals like you continues to make it possible for Vintage Band Festival to present such amazing musicians and ensembles and not charge admission. We are fortunate to have the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council as our principal funder in 2024, but their support accounts for just 30% of our $30,000 budget. The rest will need to come from other grants, and businesses and individuals such as you.

A successful spring fund drive outcome is essential to the success of our summer festival. A gift in any amount is welcome, but gifts of $100 or more are critically important right now. Donors are featured prominently in the festival program and in onsite signage at Bridge Square.

Our goal for the spring fund drive is $10,000. We need to have that in-hand by June 15 in order to fulfill the commitments we will be making to our musicians and our partners. Please help us achieve that goal!

If you are donating by check, use Vintage Band Festival as the payee and send it to 204 W. 7th St. W #130/Northfield, MN 55057. If you want to make your gift with a credit card, go to http://www.vintagebandfestival.org and click on the big green “Donate” button and follow the prompts.

Thank you for your consideration and we hope to see you July 26-27 in Downtown Northfield for Vintage Band Festival 2024!

Rase de Terre, Vintage Band Festival 2022 (Photo credit David Perez)

Vintage Band Festival Announces 2024 Festival Schedule

Vintage Band Festival has selected the roster of bands and the complete schedule of VBF 2024 which will take place in Northfield, Minnesota July 26-27, 2024.

VBF 2024 will be a 1+ day affair with music on Friday night and all day Saturday. Friday the music will kick-off at 5:30 pm and Saturday the music will start at 9:00 am and continues non-stop until 10:00 pm.

All performances will be along the banks of the Cannon River in Downtown Northfield.

New to the festival in 2024 are five bands: The Freier Department, Beasley’s Big Band, the Medalist Concert Band, the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, and K-Libre24. The other bands have performed at VBF before, but for some it’s been more than five years.

Here is the complete schedule for the weekend.

FRIDAY               July 26, 2024  

5:30                    K-Libre 24 *        

7:00                    Mariachi Mi Tierra         

8:30                    McNasty Brass Band                               

SATURDAY        July 27, 2024

9:00                    New Prague Area Community Band  

10:00                  Dirty Shorts Brass Band           

11:00                  Sheldon Theatre Brass Band  

12:00                  Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band *     

1:00                    Minnesota State Band

2:00                    Freier Department  *     

3:00                    Bavarian Musikmeisters          

4:00                    Twin Cities Trumpet Ensemble            

5:15                    Medalist Concert Band *            

6:45                    Brass Messengers        

8:30                    Beasley’s Big Band *    

 *first appearance at Vintage Band Festival 

Riverwalk Market Fair will be sharing Bridge Square with Vintage Band Festival on Saturday. There will be more than 30 vendors in the park from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm showcasing fresh produce, baked goods, visual artists, textiles, jewelry, and more.

Visit the Vintage Band Festival website often to get updates and background information about the performing ensembles.

Meet the new VBF Board members

At its February 2024 Board of Directors meeting, the Vintage Band Festival board elected three new members to the group, bringing the total number of directors to fifteen. We’re pleased to introduce Lee Enquist, Vicki Scott and Bonnie Jean Flom.

Lee Engquist

Lee is a recently retired Corporate Tax Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota where he worked for more than 20 years. He is a graduate of St. Olaf College from Fairmont, Minnesota and sings in the I Cantanti choral ensemble in Northfield. He is a dedicated donor and volunteer for Vintage Band Festival.

Vicki Scott

This winter Vicki opened a new record store in downtown Northfield called Verbena Vinyl. Previously, she was the social media coordinator at Just Food Coop in Northfield from 2016 to 2020. She has also been the marketing manager at the coop in Hastings, Minnesota. She’s written grants for her personal art projects. During the pandemic she worked as a training manager with a health care company. Vicki has an MFA in creative writing and an MA in secondary ed/teaching.

Bonnie Jean Flom

Bonnie is life-long education professional beginning with a teaching position at Longfellow Elementary School in Northfield. She later became the principal for several years at Greenvale Elementary School. After that she held positions in public schools in the Twin Cities. For many years, Bonnie was the lead singer in a popular local ensemble called Bonnie and the Clydes.

Bonnie Jean Flom, Lee Engquist, Vicki Scott

Notice of VBF Annual Meeting February 12

In accordance with the Vintage Band Festival bylaws, the 2024 Annual Meeting of Vintage Band Festival will be held on Monday, February 12, 2024 at noon at the conference room of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 19 Bridge Square, Northfield, Minnesota. A brief recap of 2023 activities will be presented and the 2024 VBF officers will be elected. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The February monthly meeting of the  Vintage Band Festival board will take place immediately following the 2024 VBF Annual Meeting.

VBF 2024 will be 2 days!

Historically, Vintage Band Festival has had alternating 1-day and 4-day schedules. In 2024 we’re going to experiment with a 2-night, 1-day schedule. Our plan is to present three ensembles on Friday night, July 26, beginning at 5:00 pm and ending at 10:00 pm. On Saturday, July 27, we’ll program our customary twelve hours of music beginning at 9:00 am.

The VBF board has occasionally discussed this scenario over the years and this year decided to make it happen. Part of the reason for this change is the upcoming 20th anniversary year of VBF in 2026. Traditionally, 2025 would be a year with a multi-day event. However, since 2026 will be our 20th anniversary celebration, we decided to move the next 4-day event to 2026 instead. Hence the experiment with a 1+ day event in 2024.

Stay tuned for more information soon on the bands that will be performing in 2024 and the complete schedule of events!

Tuba Christmas 2023 was a success!

Tuba Christmas 2023 in Northfield was a roaring success. An audience of over 600 filled Carleton College’s Skinner Memorial Chapel  and listened with rapt attention to nearly 60 tubas and euphoniums playing a variety of Christmas carols. In between numbers, conductor Dr. Paul Niemisto presented information about the evolution of low brass instruments and cultural context for some of the carols.

2023 is the 50th Anniversary of the Tuba Christmas organization and the 24th annual Tuba Christmas in Northfield.

Many thanks to the Carleton’s Conference and Events staff for their assistance in set up and take down and to the college for once again being a supportive co-host for the event.

Vintage Band Festival awarded a 2023 SEMAC Legacy Grant

The Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) has awarded Vintage Band Festival a 2023 Legacy Grant for Organizations. The $10,000 grant will be used to partially fund the upcoming Vintage Band Festival 2024 next summer.

One member of the review committee had this to say about our application:

“The people involved in this project are very qualified and have varied skills…great that you are helping to keep Big Band music alive and bringing high quality music to your community….by varying the styles of music it is a educational experience for your audiences and keeps it enjoyable…the location keeps the event very inclusive of all…by mixing amateur and professional bands everyone learns from each other and that makes it a win win for everyone!”

Another reviewer commented:

 “A very unique event that evolves and keeps your community involved because of the quality bands and the live music experience….great that you are including Latino bands also…this project seems to have lots of community support from donors to volunteers to attendees…  Community involvement is great for this project, and there appears to be planning to improve upon past experiences.”

We’re grateful to our fantastic grant writer, Joy Riggs, for another successful outcome. We’re also grateful to the Minnesota legislature for passing the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. That legislation provides the funding for SEMAC and other regional arts councils in Minnesota to administer.

The Vintage Band Festival Fund

As a result of two recent extraordinary donations, the Vintage Band Festival board of directors has launched The Vintage Band Festival Fund. This fund will part of the Northfield Area Fund, a community fund that is under the auspices of a local non-profit organization called Northfield Shares.

Our intent is for the Vintage Band Festival Fund ( VBF Fund) to be a place where donors may wish to give a legacy gift to help insure that Vintage Band Festival will be able to present live brass and wind band music many years into the future. Our organization will continue to fundraise annually to support the next scheduled festival, but we also need to fundraise with a longer timeline in mind.

Legacy gifts can be made using retirement plan assets. They can also be part of a trust or a named beneficiary when planning for one’s estate. They can simply be one-time gifts to honor someone’s memory.

We are humbled and extremely grateful to board member Jan Stevens for her generous gift that has ennabled the VBF Fund to be created. We also wish to acknowledge the Wenger Foundation for their timely gift that has effectively doubled  the size of the VBF Fund at its launch.

Donations to the Vintage Band Festival Fund can be made online by clicking on this link:

VBF on the radio: Tuba Christmas & the VBF Fund

As a result of two recent extraordinary donations, the Vintage Band Festival board of directors has launched the Vintage Band Festival Fund. This fund will part of the Northfield Area Fund, a community fund that is under the auspices of a local non-profit organization called Northfield Shares.

Our intent is for the Vintage Band Festival Fund ( VBF Fund) to be a place where donors may wish to give a legacy gift to help insure that Vintage Band Festival will be able to present live brass and wind band music many years into the future. Our organization will continue to fundraise annually to support the next scheduled festival, but we also need to fundraise with a longer timeline in mind.

We are humbled and extremely grateful to board member Jan Stevens for her generous gift of $25,000 that has enabled the VBF Fund to be created. We also wish to acknowledge the Wenger Foundation for their timely gift of $20,000 that will nearly double the size of the VBF Fund. Anyone wishing to donate to the VBF Fund can send a check payable to Northfield Shares (with “Vintage Band Festival Fund” on the memo line) and send it to Northfield Shares, 205 Water Street South, Northfield, MN 55057. There will be an online option soon for anyone wishing to use a credit card.

Jan and two other VBF board members were recently featured on the Art Zany: Radio for the Imagination show on the local station 95.1 The One KYMN Radio talking about the VBF Fund and the upcoming 2023 edition of Tuba Christmas in Northfield on Saturday, December 2. The VBF segment starts at about 35:30:00 in the recording.