VIDEO: History: Scottville Clown Band Harvest Festival 1988

January 1, 2024

VIDEO: Scottville Clown Band Harvest Festival 1988

This History Spotlight is presented by the Mason County Historical Society in partnership with Mason County Press. Mason County Historical Society was founded in 1937. It operates three facilities/museums including the Mason County Research Center in downtown Ludington, the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum in Ludington and Historic White Pine Village in Pere Marquette Township. Learn more here

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

I have been a member of the Scottville Clown Band since the summer of my 16th birthday, 1986 and have served as the organization’s treasurer since 2008. My interest in local history has gone hand-in-hand with my interest in preserving the history of the band. Over the years I have become involved in various aspects of this task. When I was in college at Grand Valley State University I worked on a short documentary on the band. Looking back, it was rather rough. But, it was a start.

A few years ago, I initiated the band’s donation of its extensive archives to the Mason County Historical Society. This donation is a partnership between the band and the Society, placing these valuable documents in safe keeping. This was an especially appropriate since the Historical Society already oversaw an extensive collection of Clown Band archives at the Scottville Clown Band Museum of Music at Historic White Pine Village. Over the past couple of years I, along with band member Jim Root of Holland, have been working to digitize those archives with the goal of creating a historical documentary on the band, whose roots date back to 1903.

Lately, I have been digitizing old VHS videos of the band from the 1980s and 1990s. I thought I would start sharing some of those here on MCP.

This particular one is from 1988 when a film crew was sent to the Scottville Harvest Festival on behalf of Dow Chemical. They were putting together a story about the Clown Band members who worked for the Ludington Dow plant. This video was created on Sept. 17, 1988. It shows many members who are no longer with us. It also shows the band performing for the first time on the Scottville Clown Band Shell. Construction of the shell had just begun a few weeks prior.

The band shell was built with a $5,000 donation from the Clown Band along with donations from the Scottville Optimist Club, State Savings Bank of Scottville (now West Shore Bank) and money raised by the newly formed Ludington Area Foundation (now the Community Foundation for Mason County). The funds from the community foundation were raised a few weeks later, Oct. 8, 1988 during a Clown Band concert at L.F. Peterson Auditorium in Ludington. It was the first major fund raising event by the foundation.