Meire Grove Community Band to perform for Staples Music in the Park

The Meire Grove Community Band will present a concert in the Staples Music in the Park series Sunday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. The concert will be held in the Northern Pacific Park across from the Government Center at 611 Iowa Ave. N.E. For more information on the Music in the Park Series and other concerts in the area, check out the Staples Motley Area Arts Council’s Web site at

The Meire Grove Community Band represents a rich history and tradition that once flourished in nearly every Minnesota small town. Located in Stearns County with a population of only 125 people, this small farming community boasts of having the oldest, continuously performing community band in the entire state of Minnesota. The band was organized in 1883.

The current director is Vern Meyer, who is in his 51st year of wielding the baton. After graduating from St. John’s University, Meyer served as a high school band director in Bertha-Hewitt and Melrose until the lure of the land and a life style called him back to the family farm.

Only four men have led the Meire Grove Band during their 124 years. The first director was Nicholas Bohnen, with the Meyer family taking over the baton in the early years. Herman H. Meyer, Vern’s grandfather took the baton after Bohnen. Vern’s uncle, George Baltes, led the band from 1914 to 1956, when Vern took over the directorship. Featuring music from traditional Sousa marches to concert music, the Meire Grove Band is a hit with listeners of all ages.

The tie of the Meyer family is to the town of Meire Grove, as well as the band. The community was settled by the Meyer family and the town was intended to bear the family name. Unfortunately, it was a three day horse ride to the county seat in those days and, somehow, the spelling got changed, perhaps due to some diversion along the way.

Family and friends are an essential element to the band’s longevity and success. Many families have more than one member in the band, several from more than one generation. Others come from out-of-town to play with friends and neighbors and just to have a good time. Vern’s two sisters, a son, two daughters, a son-in-law and four grandchildren currently play under his leadership.

The band performs a few times each summer and recently began a more extensive summer schedule with parades and concerts in several Minnesota communities, including Melrose, Sauk Centre, Greenwald, Olivia, Hoffman, Staples and the Stearns County Fair. They ended last summer’s season with a home concert in Meire Grove honoring Vern for his 50 years of leadership.

The Music in the Park Series is funded by the Staples Host Lions Club. The Series is organized by the Staples Motley Area Arts Council with the assistance of the Staples Motley Public Schools and the City of Staples.

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