Statue press release:
If you have driven by Karl King Park in downtown Fort Dodge recently, you may have noticed there are signs of new construction work happening and some cement being poured. You may have wondered exactly what is happening! This area, formerly known as the City Square, will become the home of Fort Dodge’s newest monument – a life-size statue of famed band composer and conductor Karl L. King.
Born in Ohio in 1891, Karl King spent his boyhood years in Paintersville, Canton, and Columbus, Ohio. At the young age of 19, he joined the circus and traveled with various circus bands for the next 9 years, first as a performer and later as a conductor. In the fall of 1920, he came to Fort Dodge to become the conductor of the Municipal Band, a position he held until his death in 1971.
During that time, he is credited with publishing nearly 300 compositions for band, and became known throughout the United States as a conductor and composer of band music. Today, his compositions continue to be heard and performed by bands all over the world.
The local Rotary Club, spurred on by the leadership of Harlan Pfaff, decided to erect a monument in Mr. King’s honor. Being inspired by the statue of Meredith Willson in the Music Man Square at Mason City, Iowa, they sought out the sculptor who had created that work. Paul Rieffer, from St. Paul, Minnesota, was hired to do this new monument in the same style as the one of Meredith Willson and numerous others he had previously done.
This lasting tribute will soon appear at the Karl King Park, and will be dedicated on October 22, 2006. This special afternoon will begin at 3:00 pm with a concert by the Karl L. King Municipal Band, under the direction of Jerrold Jimmerson. Following their concert, which will feature several guest conductors, will be a special dedication program starting around 3:45 pm. Several guest speakers will share comments, including sculptor Paul Rieffer, band manager Duane “Oley” Olson, Rotary Club president Scott Green, mayor Terry Lutz, and project spokesman Harlan Pfaff. The Main speaker will be former mayor, Judge Albert Habhab. In case of inclement weather, the program will be moved to the Decker Auditorium at Iowa Central Community College.
On Saturday, October 21st, there will be a public open house at the library public meeting room, which will feature an extensive display of King memorabilia, including pictures, awards, medals, uniforms, and original manuscripts. This display is open to the public from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm Saturday only. There will be no admission charge, although free will donations will be accepted. Andrew Glover, chief operating officer with the C. L. Barnhouse Publishing Co., (the main publisher of King’s music) will also be on hand with historic items from their company, including antique music engraving tools and engraved printing plates of King’s compositions. This display will also feature a large collection of musical instruments, including many antique, rare, unique, and unusual, plus several instruments played by early Fort Dodge band musicians. Among instruments of special interest will be a cornet played by famed circus bandleader Merle Evans, and the last instrument, a baritone horn, owned and played by Karl King.
Paul Rieffer (holding statue feet) and the construction crew are shown delivering the bronze statue.