Menomonie’s Ludington Guard Band continues the tradition
MENOMONIA (WQOW) – When a Chippewa Valley community group started playing, there were only 38 states.
The Ludington Guard Band holds the title of oldest concert orchestra in Wisconsin.
“Officially the band started in 1888, but we have roots that go much deeper than that. During the Civil War many soldiers were exposed to a lot of music, and when they got home they didn’t The cavalry unit was called Ludington Guard because it was named after Governor Harrison Ludington, ”said Carroll Rund, one of the tuba players and historian of the group.
During World War II, the Ludington Guard Band changed forever. As the men went to war, the women joined the group for the first time. Today the group has its first female president, Anita Keeler.
“It’s a huge honor, and when I found out I was the first female president, I thought it was great. To be honest, I hope I will be remembered for having does a good job, ”Keeler said.
“I think it’s great. Another story. It should have been that way a long time ago,” said Rund.
The Ludington Guard Band calls the Wilson Park bandshell home and can accommodate up to 70 people. The band members range from high school to those with over 50 years of musical experience.
Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack said the town was grateful to have the group.
“It’s a long-standing tradition and a great thing for Menomonie. All generations come to the group to hear the Ludington Guard Band, which brings in parents, grandparents and young children. What the Ludington Guard Band brings to the community is great. They all have their own jobs, but they all come together, ”Knaack said.
The Ludington Guard Band plays 10 concerts a year in the summer. During the Monday night practices, he receives new music, from polkas to marches to children’s music, and performs them the next day.
“I have to trust them to be good musicians, and they are. Great readers on sight. Everyone really needs to be on guard for this, ”said James Woodford, group manager.
The pandemic caused band members to distance themselves during practice and play with bell lids, but, as they’ve been doing since 1888, the Ludington Guard Band have found a way to make sure the show continues.
“The town of Menomonie has been very supportive, and without them we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Keeler said.
“Knowing that we entertain people of all ages is special to us. It’s just a lot of fun, and it makes us better musicians, ”said Rand.
Rund and Keeler both said the Ludington Guard Band felt like family. To learn more about the group, click or tap here