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The Rodeo Band

posted Jul 6, 2017, 6:25 AM by James Nennemann
By Linda Holmes Reilly

(Editor's Note: It’s that time of year in Fremont County when we begin to anticipate Rodeo Week. Iowa's Championship RodeoMuseum & Fremont County History in Sidney tells the story of the Rodeo, which is celebrating it’s 94th year.  One of the special exhibits is a brick entryway featuring names of supporters and volunteers and a story for each brick. This week’s View from the Attic shares one of those brick’s stories.)

Rodeo band was a privilege and a highlight of the Sidney school student's lives when Chuck Sargeant, Bob Cowell and Emil Wahling were directors. Learning to march was important as knees had to be up high and toes down. My cousin, Bruce Hopkins, remembers Mr. Sargeant whacking his shins with the director's baton when he did not lift his feet high enough. 

All music had to be memorized. Starting in June, each person in the band had private lessons with the director and had to pass the music before the Rodeo. I remember marching in the gym playing the music until the weather was warm enough to practice outdoors. Mr. Sargeant timed the music for the performances, each had its own identifying music, and the band had to play the music at the exact number of seconds the various competitions required.

The band practiced all summer. The week before the Rodeo, we practiced squeezing in and out of the gate in the arena as well as the sharp turns to march half way around the arena to stand and then continue playing until the rest of the parade entered. After the "Star Spangled banner" (sung for many years by then student, Jeff Penn) the band went into the band stand above the arena. Here the director would sit on the railing so he could see all the action while directing the band. If students didn't miss any of the scheduled events in which they were to participate for the entire week, they received 4 silver dollars. The director was paid $400.00 for the summer's work.

Every member of the band remembers marching when it rained. One time the mud was so deep it pulled off some of our shoes. We kept marching and hoped we would be able to find our shoes after the Rodeo. Our loyal mothers washed and ironed white pants and red shirts between the afternoon and evening performances during rainy days, and always before the next day's Rodeo.

The band kids got to know the clowns and some of the cowboys. A number of the stars stopped by the band stand like Jimmie Dean, Hoss and Little Joe, Doc and Festus, Allen Case, and Jack Lord.

Any person who was a member of the Sidney High School Marching Band in those days of 10 performances fondly remembers lots of hard work, but it was a marvelous experience in which we felt we played an important part in Iowa'sChampionship Rodeo.

If you would like information on purchasing a brick to share your special Rodeo Story, call Rosie 712-374-2590