A key part of Parrsboro’s history will be celebrated this weekend when the Parrsboro Band Association hosts its 50th Band Day celebrations.
While band days of the past were usually held on a single afternoon, members of the association wanted to do something special to commemorate the 50th edition. A committee was struck in February to organize the celebration and two days full of events have been scheduled featuring bands of different genres, children’s entertainment, food vendors and an alumni gathering that will see several hundred former members of the Parrsboro Citizens Band getting together for another march up Main Street.
“With this being the 50th Band Day I had a vision that was bigger than normal and it got bigger as we started planning,” organizing committee chair David Forbes said. “The support has been overwhelming. There are people travelling from all over Canada to support this, including alumni who are coming to march. The chance to march up Main Street behind a band one more time is huge to the alumni."
Forbes said the citizens’ band meant so much to young people and it helped shape many lives.
“Their lives were so touched by the Parrsboro Citizens Band,” he said. “Growing up in Parrsboro everyone was given the opportunity to play in the band. It formed careers for people and did so much for young people. It gave them the confidence to go out into the world.”
Forbes isn’t sure when the Parrsboro Citizens Band got its start, but he knows it dates to the 1870s making it one of the oldest, continuously performing community bands in Canada. It performed during various community events over the years, including Canada Day, and held several concerts a year.
Municipality of Cumberland Mayor Murray Scott is also celebrating the band’s history in the community and is urging county residents to participate in the celebration.
“The Parrsboro Citizens’ Band has been a part of the community for many years and it has provided tremendous opportunity to the community to those with musical talent and youth over the years who were encouraged to join,” the mayor said. “The band is something for which Parrsboro was known for several generations and it really planted the seed for many of its members to go on to great things in their lives.”
The mayor said the celebration will include two great days of entertainment and he’s very appreciative of the work done by the organizing committee and is happy the work of the band continues through The Hall which has become a cultural focal point for Parrsboro and area. While it no longer has the membership to perform as it did in years past, its attention has turned to hosting musical activities, courses and other events at The Hall at 44 King St., Parrsboro.
Events kick off on Saturday, July 22, at 12:45 p.m. with a Main Street Stroll featuring the Riverside Ramblers Dixieland Band with the opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. a concert by the Riverside Ramblers Dixieland Band from 1:15 to 2, children’s activities – including a Donna & Andy performance and other events from 2 to 3 and other performances from 3 until 9:30 p.m. featuring the Pictou Pipe Band (3 p.m.), the Nova Brass Quintet (4 p.m.), Hooligan’s Ruff (5 p.m.), Men Will Be Boys (6 p.m.) and Lennie Gallant at 7 p.m.
A native of Rustico, P.E.I., Gallant is a multiple East Coast Music Award-winning entertainer whose music crosses into the folk-rock and country music genres while celebrating the musical heritage of Prince Edward Island.
The celebration continues on Sunday, July 23, at 8:30 a.m. with an alumni breakfast followed by a performance by the Citizens Choir at 11 a.m., the Truro Concert Band at noon and an alumni march up Main Street to the bandshell that will feature former citizens band members following the Bridgewater Fire Department Band.
The rest of Sunday includes performances from the Great George Street Brass Band from Charlottetown (2 p.m.), the Global Centric Brass Band (3 p.m.), the Bridgewater Fire Department Band (4 p.m.), another band from the Halifax area (5 p.m.) and a finale featuring the Elastic Big Band, the JC Band and the Wazoo Band (6 p.m.) with things wrapping up at 8:50 p.m.
“We’re expecting Parrsboro to be absolutely plugged that weekend,” Forbes said. “If you are a fan of band music, this will be the place to be. There will be marching bands, quartets, pipe bands and much more. It’s all going to be there. It’s a celebration of music and the band association.”
Admission is free throughout the weekend, although there will be the traditional passing of the band hat to raise funds. For more information, go to the Parrsboro Band Association’s Facebook page.