Friday 21 June 2024

A Very Busy Weekend

With a busy week behind me, a very busy weekend was ahead: The Village Brass Band were celebrating their 100th anniversary.

It wasn't the first festivity of this year to mark this special occasion, but it was the biggest: All of Saturday and Sunday, we had a schedule choc full of brass bands, a parade, a variety evening on stage, a large beer tent, stalls serving food and drink, activities for children and more.

Many of the band members had taken the Friday before and the Monday after off work, in order to set up the large tent (bigger than the one we usually rent for the May fête) and pull it back down.

On five past 8:00 on Saturday (15 June) morning, we arrived at the parking lot at the centre of the village, along with many others. Rain had fallen during the night and early hours, but now the sun was peeping out, and it was beginning to warm up. A blustery wind helped to dry off the square, but there were still puddles right where we wanted to set up some of the stalls.

Never mind, we did it, and a little after 12:00, we arrived at the cottage for a brief rest and a quick snack of fresh fruit and yoghurt. We showered and dressed properly (of course we'd not been in our best clothes for the physical work), and a little before 3:00 pm, I was back at the tent.

From that moment on until 8:00 pm, I was constantly busy and on my feet nearly non-stop, and from 6:30 pm, a fellow band member and I were on stage to serve as MCs for the evening program which consisted of four different acts, all in honour of the 100th anniversary.

Two were bands who played different kinds of music, and two were dance groups; one of those were in traditional costumes of the area, performing traditional dances, while the others were teenage girls dancing to hip hop music - you couldn't get more contrast than that. It was to show not only the support of the other clubs and bands in the village, but also how during the century the band has now been in existence music and dancing have changed and developed.

My colleague and I each had a cordless mic and improvised a lot - most of the time, we prepared only very roughly who was to say what, and when. But it worked a treat, and apart from me holding the mic too far away from my mouth so that people found they heard me less well than my colleague, the audience seemed to be as happy with us as with the various performances.

Once we'd got off stage for the last time, O.K. and I went outside to get drinks, and then mingled with the many visitors. At 9:00 pm, a brass band of local and regional fame, consisting of 9 young lads, went on stage. We alternated between listening to them and getting more drinks. It was a good evening; the mood inside the tent was great, with folks eventually dancing on the tables and benches (not us).

We left around midnight, but the band kept playing for about another hour - their energy seemed endless.

No sleeping in on Sunday (16 June) for us - mass was held in the large tent at 9:30 in the morning, and of course we had to be there well before that. While O.K. and his fellow musicians got ready to accompany the hymns, I was handing out the music sheets to the church goers and directed the odd unsure person to where they would find an empty seat. 

It was an unusual setting for mass, but very well attended, and I quite liked what the vicar said. The music was beautiful, and I sang along like nearly everybody else.

Immediately afterwards, I was expected to help inside town hall with a reception for the leaders of the nine other brass bands who were here for the day. We prepared flowers, put out glasses and snacks and got the sparkling wine and other drinks ready.

The mayor was there, of course, and a few congratulatory speeches were made. O.K. and four others played a few pieces of traditional brass music, and the glass doors to the roof terrace were opened so that we could wander outside and see the village from a very different perspective - that was my favourite part of the reception.

Preparing the reception

View from town hall across the stalls, with the fest not yet started.

A view across the village I had never had before.

The five musicians at the reception.

I helped putting everything away again and then set off up the main village street to where a small truck had been set up - my place of work for the next two hours or so.

At the other end of the village street, the 10 brass bands had been gathering. Now one after the other, they marched down the street lined with spectators, playing music. First came the "birthday child", of course.

My colleague and I stood on our impromptu platform, mic in hand, and announced each band as they were approaching. We told the spectators a few facts about the bands and sprinkled in a little light humour; by now, we had come to like this MC lark and knew how to do it as a spontaneous dialogue.

One of the visiting bands on their way to the top end of the village street

Each band was special in their own way, but the most special part was yet to come:

Once they had all marched down towards town hall, they gathered on the main road that cuts through the village (it was of course blocked for traffic on this occasion). Imagine somewhere around 500 musicians, all in their band uniforms and holding shiny brass instruments, in one spot - and now imagine them all playing one song together! It was a moment for goosebumps, and many people were moved to tears.

Too many to get them all in one picture!

The one to the right is "our" village band, the one celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Finally, O.K. and I went home to freshen up a little, and he changed out of his band uniform. We went back to the fest, had something to eat and coffee, and at 5:00 pm we were manning one of the drinks stalls.

Usually on such shifts behind the counter we are rushed off our feet, but not so that evening. After what had been a mostly sunny day with only a few sprinkles of rain, a series of showers set in, and with the parade as the main event being over, many visitors left. The ones who were still there were more interested in beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks, none of which were available at our stall.

It was really slow going, but to be honest, after the two very busy days, it was welcome not be working an exhausting shift. We agreed to close our stall an hour before it was actually meant to close and started to pack up.

From 9:00 pm, the other stalls followed suit, and by the time we started to clean and fold away the benches and tables in the big tent, rain had set in properly. We helped with various jobs until after 10:00 pm, and were back at the cottage by 10:30, too tired to do anything else than get ready for bed and go to sleep.

It had been a very busy weekend indeed, but also a great one - it was fun to be involved, and we were mostly lucky with the weather; at least it had not rained on the parade :-)


  1. Wow! I would be too nervous to be the MC so congrats to you, Meike, for doing that job. Well done! Sounds like a fabulous weekend and I'm glad the rain held off until the end so it didn't ruin your celebration.

    1. I am used to playing host/MC-ing at various events and don‘t mind that at all, but usually, I am on my own and not part of a duo like this time, and better prepared 😊
      We were all happy that the weather was good for the parade, not too hot but sunny and dry.

  2. A very busy weekend for you all. Lovely that so many bands were able to come and celebrate 100 years - quite an achievement. I would have loved to hear them play together.

    1. That really was quite something, and showed what people can achieve if they work together for a common goal.

  3. A busy weekend indeed. Not able to cope with such busy days/weekends myself any more, I kind of feel exhausted just reading about it! Glad it worked out well for you though. A pity the rain didn't keep off a bit longer - I imagine not so much fun to have to pack up wet tents etc... (Here, Midsummer Eve stayed free of rain, but today we're back to rain and +13/14'C)

    1. You imagine right, packing up in the rain is not much fun.
      The large tent was only pulled down the next day, Monday, when I was back at work. Many of the band members had taken two days off: The Friday to erect the tent and the Monday to pull it down. For such a large structure as we had for the anniversary, a full day is needed each time. Since I am no good with heavy loads, I wasn‘t involved in that. The heaviest items I carry on my own on such oaccasions are beer benches; I have become quite fast at unfolding them, setting them up, wiping them down and doing the reverse after a fête 😊

  4. You really were busy! But it sounds like a lot of fun, and I like how you seemed to enjoy working as an MC!

    How many people live in your village? I can't imagine having dedicated marching bands consisting of adults who regularly play together like that. The only marching bands we see here consist of high school bands. Life in your village is so different than life in the small city where I live--it seems about 1000x more charming. :)

    1. Sorry, my reply to your comment now appears as an extra comment, but of course it is meant as my reply to you!

  5. We truly were busy, but it was all for the greater good, and not something we do every weekend… or every year!

    O.K.‘s village has about 2,500 inhabitants. The village brass band consists currently of somewhere around 40 active musicians, plus about the same number of non-musicians like myself, partners, parents etc. who help with all the jobs needed for the running of the band, admin or during a concert, and so on.
    They aren‘t really a marching band - it is usually only for carnival and at one church holiday during the year that they march. They all put in a good deal of time and effort, with band practice every Wednesday and more practice sessions before concerts and performances.

  6. It sounds like an incredible weekend, and very satisfying too. When I was a child in Germany I remember the bands in villages, but I didn't know the local ones joined together sometimes to celebrate special occasions.

    1. I've never experienced anything like it - only once in a 100 years :-)