Local instrumental band celebrating 80th year

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Kingsville-bandby Fred Groves

They are called the ‘Musical Ambassadors of Essex County,’ and the title is fitting.

On Thursday night, the opening day of the 30th Annual Essex Fun Fest, the Kingsville-Essex Associated Band put on a brief performance in front of a large crowed in front of the Essex Centre Sports Complex.

It was a quick peek at what is in store for audiences and parade-goers as the band celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.
Back in 1937, Charles Maedel started what he called the ‘Essex Boys Band’ in order to give young boys something to do and give them values and a chance to play music. The band’s name changed to ‘South Essex Boys Band’ and then to the ‘Kingsville-Essex Associated Band.’Kingsville-band-2

Maedel recruited E.L. Robinson, who would direct the band for a remarkable and memorable 35 years before passing on the leadership to one of his musicians, Jim Barnett.

It was Barnett who started taking the band into Michigan for competitions and to Toronto and other festivals across Canada.

Essex District High School music teacher Tony Malikowski became the Band Director in the 1990s, followed by Grant Bergeron, and then long-time trumped player Brad Switzer guided the K-E Band through its 75th Anniversary.

This year, the band is somewhat returning to its roots, which was a military marching style created by Robinson. Chris Ingratta, now the sixth leader in band’s history, was with the Windsor Regiment Band.

The tradition marches on.