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Bob Lind, Published September 19 2010

Lind: Band fest was a favorite

For North Dakota and Minnesota high schools, a big event of the year used to be the annual Band Festival sponsored by WDAY.

Many bands would parade through Moorhead and Fargo, accompanied by cars bearing each town’s mayor, school superintendent and the schools’ queens. Then the bands would give outdoor concerts in the two cities.

Bob Morris of Fargo remembers them well because he and others in his organization played a key role in getting the parade organized.

Bob was a charter member of the Fargo-Moorhead Association of Grocery Manufacturers Representatives.

This group had two jobs: putting signs on the sides of the cars giving the names of the town and the queens and then lining up the bands, floats and cars as directed by Roy Pedersen.

Roy, sales promotion chief for WDAY, had organized the grocery organization in 1958. And Roy was a co-chairman of the festival.

Keeping score

Bob, who was on the road for Procter & Gamble for 36 years, was an Air Force radio operator from 1948 to 1952; he helped organize the Northern Wildlife Project, which led to the formation of the Red River Zoo in Fargo and is still a volunteer at the zoo; he played bugle for the American Legion Gauchos drum and bugle corps; and he is a big baseball fan and has run the scoreboard at Jack Williams Stadium, Fargo, for 20-some years.

He and his late wife, Carol, had five daughters, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

But this story is about the band festival, which Bob and other members of the grocery organization helped pull off.

47 bands

The first festival was held in 1952 to mark WDAY’s 30th anniversary.

It brought in 47 bands. A sampling of the towns represented: Cooperstown, Fargo, Gwinner, Larimore, Mayville, Minto, St. Thomas and Williston in North Dakota; and Barnesville, Detroit Lakes, Fisher, Halstad, Moorhead, Perham and Twin Valley in Minnesota.

WDAY’s Julius Hetland and Roy headed that year’s festival.

It and following festivals were held in May. And that created one small problem.

Kay Syvrud of Hawley, Minn., says she marched in the parade some years ago, and “Our band uniforms were 100 percent wool, and in late May, we were terribly hot for the remainder of the day; nobody in our day thought of bringing other clothes along like today’s teenagers would do.”

But the kids marched and performed, despite the heat, and big crowds lined Fargo-Moorhead streets to cheer them on, particularly when their town’s band, majorettes and queen came by.

Many of the kids in the bands that participated now are parents and grandparents. The grocery organization that helped with the festival was disbanded years ago.

But the music from that festival still rings in the ears of Bob Morris and others who were part of it in any way.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com