North Iowa Band Festival canceled for the first time since WWII

Brett Bachtle
Updated: April 16, 2020 10:40 PM
Created: April 16, 2020 10:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- 76 trombones will not be leading the big parade in Mason City this year. On Wednesday, the Mason City Chamber Of Commerce canceled the 2020 North Iowa Band Festival for the first time since World War II due to concerns over COVID-19.
 
 "My thought was we cannot cancel. There's no way that our community will be able to handle a tradition subsiding,” said Band Festival Coordinator Kativa Weitzel.
 
 The chamber looked at first postponing the event, but after talking with local marching bands it was determined that rescheduling would not be an option.
 
 "The biggest part of the band festival is the parade and it is the marching bands and it is the royalty. Without them, the tradition and the sense of the cultural heritage and the music, our community is lost,” Weitzel said.
 
 "Band Festival was part of the reason that I wanted to become a band director. I saw it as a little kid and just loved it all,” said Northwood-Kensett Band Director Jared Barnes.
 
 The cancellation is heartbreaking for music enthusiasts across north Iowa, but none more upsetting than to the marching bands that planned to take part.
 
 "I’ve had kids asking me about band festival since December - excited about it and looking forward to it, asking what are we going to play and all that kind of stuff, so it is disappointing for them,” Barnes said.
 
 Northwood-Kensett High School senior Peyton Pangburn is one of the many students stripped of yet another last.
 
 "It was sad. I was like oh my gosh there goes like one more thing. We won't know who's going to be band king and queen or we won't get to ride in the convertible,” said Pangburn.
 
 The band festival committee says some of the planning towards this year's festival will roll over to next year, but that doesn't suspend their invitation to actor Hugh Jackman to serve as the grand marshal of the 2020 parade. Jackman will star in the Broadway revival of "The Music Man" later this year.
 
 "We're just going to amp up those efforts over the summer. We've had a lot of people reaching out saying we will help in any way we can, we will get those trombones to the airport and we will be there for when he arrives,” Weitzel said.
 
 If Jackman decides he does want to visit once the crisis subsides, the committee says they’ll stage a mini-festival.
 
In light of The Music Man’s revival, the theme for the 82nd annual band festival was set to be titled ‘Band fest on Broadway.' The chamber of commerce says that idea may change next year to echo the first band festival theme following the end of World War II when it was called ‘A Victory Celebration.’


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