Strike up the band!

One of our favorite summer traditions takes place on July 10, when we welcome the Ark City Community Band back to our front lawn for their season finale.

The band will close out its 146th season with the 7 p.m. performance at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, which will have free ice cream and drinks for everyone who attends.

The Ark City Community Band is the oldest continuously operated band of its kind in Kansas. In recent years, the band’s board has worked to return an “old-time” atmosphere to the free public performances. For the earlier concerts staged this summer in Wilson Park, the crowd and band members have been treated to free hot dogs, chips, and drinks, thanks to the support of multiple sponsors.

Band Director Chris VanGilder recently told Ark City Daily Bytes news website: “We are really trying to give the public a little slice of a simpler time.”

In the 19th and 20th centuries, town bands were one of the major sources of public entertainment before phonographs and radios were in most people’s homes. According to the Kansas Historical Society, Salina had a whopping six bands in 1919 — more than any other Kansas town. “Bands provided the citizens of the town with popular, light entertainment and band music was considered appropriate to almost any event. At first the city bands were usually affiliated with the military, but as the popularity of band music grew, more civilian ensembles came into being.” (Learn more on the Kansapedia website at www.kshs.org.)

The Ark City band plays a wide variety of music to appeal to nearly everyone’s tastes. And they’re always looking for additional players. Even if it’s been a while since you picked up a wind or percussion instrument, think about striking up a tune with the band next season! Email band director Chris VanGilder at chris.vangilder@usd470.com for more information.