Clown Band awards over $12,000 in honor of 120th anniversary

June 11, 2023

Scottville Clown Band during the Ludington Centennial Parade, July 7, 1973

Clown Band awards over $12,000 in honor of 120th anniversary

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — In honor of its 120th anniversary, the Scottville Clown Band is awarding $12,000 in scholarships in 2023. The band has recently announced the recipients of its Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarship. Since 1962, the Clown Band has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to junior high and senior high students attending summer music programs. This year, the band is awarding $11,000 to 52 students, the highest dollar amount and highest number of recipients in its history. Additionally, it will award $1,000 to a West Shore Community College performing arts student.

The majority of scholarship recipients will be attending Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps, for a total of $8,500 being awarded. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and the Scottville Clown Band share a historical commonality as the camp was co-founded by Gilbert Stansell I in 1966. Stansell served as Mason County Central music director in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

Local scholarship recipients include: 

  • Hart Public Schools: Henry Galindo
  • Hesperia Community Schools: Hannah Hiddema, Hayden Wright, Christopher Hiddema
  • Ludington Area Public Schools: Amelia Hatch, Kai Dila
  • Manistee Area Public Schools: Cadence Brown, Christian Erlandson, Mariah Elkins, Caleb Eilers, Nathan Erlandson, Hanna Konen, Owen Heintzelman
  • Mason County Central Public Schools: Clara Baur, Emma Jancek, Sara Abbott, Sophia Edmondson, Beli Mackenzie
  • Montague Public Schools: Oliver Evans, Landon Wood, Novalea Cannon, Carson Jasick, Jackson Rubley, Charles Pease
  • Pentwater Public Schools: Rodney Grondsma
  • Shelby Public Schools: Adelide Fleming, Kasey Oberlin, Cael Omness
  • Home school students: Yael DeBoni, Manistee; Mary Winterhalter, Shelby

Ray Schulte, founder of the modern Scottville Clown Band

In addition to the Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarship, the Scottville Clown Band awards $1,000 to a West Shore Community College performing arts student through its Robert Pinkerton, Jr. Memorial Fund, named after the late Bobby Pinkerton, who served as treasurer of the band for over 50 years. It also awards an additional $1,000 in grants to a community organization through its Bud Simms Memorial Grant Fund, named after a long-time band member, and also $2,000 in grants to a public school music program in Mason, Manistee, Oceana, or Lake counties through its Founders Grant fund. 

The Scottville Clown Band was founded in 1903 as the Scottville Merchants’ Band, and consisted of musicians who dressed in costumes and performed for local events, including the first Scottville ox roast in 1910, the predecessor of the Harvest Festival. The band expanded its area to include Ludington and some other surrounding towns into the 1930s when it unofficially became known as the Clown Band. Many towns across the country had “clown bands” jn the early 20th century. 

Its last performance was the Scottville Home Harvest Festival in September 1941, which was also the last festival prior to the United States entering into World War II. In 1947, Scottville merchant Ray Schulte (who had performed in the band prior to the war, along with his brother and father), re-formed the group in time for the first Festival since the war. The new group was officially called the Scottville Clown Band. 

Since 1947, the band has grown in size and now performs throughout Michigan and sometimes in other places as well. The band’s records show that it has performed in over 120 towns in Michigan since it was re-formed. 

The Scottville Clown Band is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission of encouraging youth to participate in performing arts. Donations to the Scottville Clown Band’s George F. Wilson Memorial Endowment Fund can be sent to Community Foundation for Mason County, 119 S. Rath Ave., Ludington, MI 49431 or to Scottville Clown Band, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. 

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