It’s not too often that an event I enjoyed as a child in the 50s can still be enjoyed today. But the Rutland City band concert in Main Street Park continues to delight those who attend. You will be pleasantly entertained on Sunday nights at 7 p.m. during 10 weeks of the summer. Growing up I attended these concerts just about every week, first with my parents and later with my friends.
As a child, I liked the music but the main draw was either french fries from Roxie’s Wagon or popcorn from Charlie Hackett’s stand. Both businesses were located along the West Street side of the park. Charlie operated out of a small wooden building that the Rutland Lions Club built for him. He was blind and usually you would find students from Mount St. Joseph Academy helping him out. I was always amazed that he knew so many people by their voices. At Roxie’s you placed your order at the window of a silver colored vehicle that resembled a school bus.
As I became a teenager the concerts were a place to meet friends or check out the boys who were there to check out the girls! It was a common sight to see young people strolling around the bandstand.
As an adult I came to appreciate the concerts for the talent and dedication of the band members. It’s a wonderful thing to see a mix of young and old making beautiful music together.
I was surprised to learn that an organized band in Rutland City began long before my days of attending concerts. Its precursors were known as the Rutland Brass Band and the Rutland Cornet Band. The Rutland City Band as we know it today was established in 1879.
The Rutland City Band is the oldest continually operated and municipally supported band. Back in 1894 Rutland Mayor Levi Kingsley and the Board of Aldermen first approved financial support for the band from city taxpayers.
The outdoor concerts were originally held in downtown Rutland for many years before moving to Main Street Park. Because of a deed restriction a roof was not allowed on the bandstand. That changed in 1926 when City Attorney Jack Crowley rendered an opinion that allowed a roof to be placed over a newly constructed concrete base foundation.
You know this event has been around for a long time when concertgoers used to arrive in horse-drawn buggies but now come in their own cars. The lightweight folding chairs of our era are easily carried onto the lawn. You have to get there really early to claim one of the few benches!
Area music teachers have always encouraged their students to play in the band, as it hones their skills during the summer months. One Rutland resident who got her “claim to fame” as an Olympic skier could be found in the bandstand back in the 1960s: Suzy Chaffee, along with her brother Kim, was a band member.
Throughout the years many musicians have spent over a half century with the band. It’s truly a labor of love to practice and commit one’s self to such an endeavor.
It’s been quite a long time since I have attended a concert in person. Yet I hear the melodious sounds every Sunday night from our yard and porch. Although our home is half a mile away, the music carries well for our enjoyment.
As much fun as it always is to look back, I think it’s time for me to move forward and once again enjoy a concert in person. This time I won’t need to stroll around the bandstand, as I have found the man for me! My husband, Peter, and I will soon be celebrating our 40th anniversary. This time the concert will be all about the music!