Jun. 19—The Kulm City Band planned to celebrate its 125 years of existence in 2020 but the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to that.
Not any longer.
The Kulm City Band 125th + 1 Celebration will take place June 25-27 in Kulm. The band will perform and other activities include fireworks, a parade, street dances, musical entertainment and an alumni banquet at the school.
Harv Lindgren, a member of the Kulm City Band and the group's media spokesman, said the band is celebrating its success in surviving for so long. He noted that other communities that had similar-type groups saw them disband over the years.
"We're the longest-standing city band in North Dakota," he said. "We've been active and been involved in quite a few community things throughout the years. Throughout the years we've played at different centennials and parades, so it's been a pretty active part of the community in Kulm."
Lindgren refers to himself as one of the "newcomers in the band," having been a member for about 15 years after learning to play the saxophone at age 50.
"We're pretty close to 40 members," he said.
The band members range in age from 15 to 93, Lindgren said.
"Our oldest member Bill Gackle has played for about 81 years in the city band," he said. Most members range in age from 55 to 70, he said.
"We have at least six or so that are under 20," he said.
The band typically gives on average six performances a year during the summer, Lindgren said. It has a standard repertoire featuring polkas, marches and patriotic songs that have been played for 25 or 30 years, he said. Those familiar songs will be part of the event next weekend, which features two different performances by the band for the public.
"But this year for the big celebration they asked my wife, Marvel Lindgren, who is retired as the music teacher in Kulm, to direct and we're playing a pretty wide variety of music for this concert," Lindgren said.
The group has been practicing for about three months twice a week to get ready for the celebration, he said.
Why the band members participate is simple, Lindgren said.
"We enjoy being together and playing together," he said. "It's encouraging, it's enjoyable for the people that come to our concerts, I think. Nothing like live music."
Wes Gackle, the president of the group, said he's been a member of the band since 1963, at the age of 13.
"My dad was in the band also," he said.
Lindgren said about 30 of the band members live in the Kulm area. There are also band members from Bismarck, Fargo, Wishek and Jamestown who have a connection with Kulm, he said.
"It's a group of musicians that all have some connection with Kulm, either Kulm graduates or Kulm teachers or married into families and live in Kulm now," he said.
He calls it "a good mesh of people and a good group," including some "outstanding musicians who are not too far from professional-level musicians."
Many of the band members also play with the Kulm High School pep during the school's sports season, he said.
"I think it's been an encouragement to the community that the most important people to us are our own community," Lindgren said of the band. "It's also a reflection on the Kulm school music program which has developed a lot of lifelong musicians."
Lindgren said Gene Finneman, who plays with the band, was the music teacher in Kulm when many of the band's older musicians had their first exposure to music. He said Finneman has been a big influence on the band for years even though he's lived in Fargo for some time and drives to Kulm for band practice.
"I think everyone in the band would say that his influence over the years has been major in why the band has continued to play well and be successful," he said.
Kulm has a population of 402 as of 2019, according to the U.S. Census. The band organized next week's celebration that was supported by the community, Lindgren said. The planning committee consisted of Wes and Cheryl Gackle, Gloria Gackle, Carol Gackle, Dale Gackle, Marla Berntson and Darcy and Lisa Irion.
The band's primary concert, "This is Our Story," will follow the 5 p.m. opening ceremony on Friday, June 25. A little history of the group will be featured along with the music. Its longtime standard selections will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26.
Kulm City Band 125th + 1 Celebration
Friday, June 25
Noon-7 p.m., airboat rides at Diamond Lake
5 p.m., opening ceremony and Kulm City Band concert, city pavilion
7-10 p.m., Dakota Rangers at Community Center
9-10 p.m. and 11 p.m.-1 a.m., dance, Slamabama, Main Street tent
10-11 p.m., fireworks near Allied Agronomy
Saturday, June 26
7 a.m., Color Run at City Park
7-9:15 a.m., airport fly-in breakfast at Kulm Airport
10:30 a.m., parade
Noon-6 p.m., inflatable games behind Heartland State Bank
1 p.m., Mylo Hatzenbuhler, Main Street tent
2 p.m., Kulm City Band, Main Street tent
3 p.m., Nathan and Tony Potts musical entertainment
3:30-5:30 p.m., Greg Hager, vocal entertainment
6 p.m., alumni banquet at school
6-8 p.m., musical entertainment
9 p.m.-1 a.m., dance, October Road at Main Street tent
Sunday, June 27
8 a.m.-1 p.m., breakfast served by Dollars for Scholars, Community Center
10:30 a.m., community church service, Main Street tent, with music by Clyde Bauman, message by Dallas Johnson