I've often thought it would be cool to have a recording of one of my great-grandfather's early bands. It's too bad that technology wasn't as widespread and accessible at the turn of the last century as it is now. But when the Vintage Band Festival comes to town this summer, I'll get a taste of what it would have been like to hear G. Oliver Riggs direct the Esbon (Kansas) Cornet Band in 1886, or the Iowa Wesleyan University Cadet Band in 1896.
The festival, set for Aug. 5-8 in Northfield, will involve 20 bands, playing 50 free concerts at outdoor venues throughout the city (and a few out-of-town locations).
Four international bands are coming, all the way from Russia, Austria, Germany and Finland. Three bands are coming from the East Coast, including the Newberry Victorian Cornet Band. And the rest are from the Midwest, like the First Brigade Band of Wisconsin, the oldest recreated Civil War brass band, and the Lake Wobegon Brass Band.
I was out of town for the first festival in 2006. That one attracted 12,000 concertgoers, and this year's event is expected to be even more popular. Mark your calendars now, and come for a day, or for the whole festival.
You can get more information about the Vintage Band Festival by visiting the website or by becoming a fan on Facebook.