Clown Band to honor 70th year members during band shell concert tonight. 

August 22, 2017

The Scottville Clown Band

Clown Band to honor 70th year members during band shell concert. 


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Tonight, the Scottville Clown Band will honor three men who played with the band when it was re-organized after World War II in 1947: Butch Claveau, Barney Barnett, and Ed Stakenas. At the time, the three were just teen-agers.

Legend has it, the Scottville Clown Band’s roots go back to 1903. Having been in the band for 31 years, I have heard these stories over and over again. Ray Schulte used to talk about the “early days” when his father, Bert, helped start the Scottville Merchants’ Band. Back in those days, the musicians would dress up as hobos. The first photograph the band has is dated 1910, when the band performed, on a hay wagon, for a celebration commemorating the paving of the streets in Scottville. This was also the beginning of the ox roast, which evolved into the Harvest Festival.

According to a written history of the band, the next record of the band playing was in 1916, celebrating the opening of Scottville City Hall at 105 N. Main St. The article goes on to say that the Harvest Festival began “around” 1924 and the band started up again, under the direction of Dwight Rowe. Later, Charles Engfer directed the band, which just wore regular clothing except for floppy hats, the article says.

In the early ’30s, when a a parade of floats was added to the Harvest Festival, the band members decided to “doll up” with silk gowns, fancy hats, jewelry, and makeup. The band adopted the name, “Ladies’ Band” and was directed by Richard Demlow.

From 1942 to 1947, the Harvest Festival was discontinued due to World War II and many of the band members were in the military. In 1947, the festival was re-started and former band member and Scottville merchant Ray Schulte reorganized the band, calling it the Scottville Clown Band.

The Clown Band has performed every year since, in several cities across Michigan and beyond. The group has also grown from a few dozen to over 200 at times. Since the mid-1960s, it has given out almost $500,000 in scholarships for children to attend performing arts summer programs. In 1974, it became a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

Tonight, the band will honor Claveau, Barnett, and Stakenas. The three no longer perform with the band, but still ride in front of the band at the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival Parade on July 4 (a parade the band has consecutively since 1948). In the band, Ray Schulte (who passed away in 2007) was affectionately known as “the Godfather” while the charter members were known as the “Class of ’47.” The band also considers members Jim Fitch (joined in 1948) and Bobby Pinkerton (joined in 1950) as members of the Class of ’47 as well.

The Clown Band performs its annual late summer concert tonight at 7 p.m. at the Scottville Clown Band Shell, located on the Charles Thompson Memorial Green (named after Ray Schulte’s business partner, and also a charter member of the band), next to the Scottville Optimist Center.

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