The Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge, Iowa

Page 2 - 2016 125th Birthday Open House

As the day progressed, there were more and more visitors.

     In order to help the public learn more about the life and travels of Karl King, the band historian, Nancy Olson, conductor Jerrold Jimmerson, Andrew Glover (seen above) and other band members were present for this display of vintage circus posters, route maps from the 9 years that King traveled with the various circuses, a vast collection of pictures and news articles, samples of hand-written music of Karl King, musical instruments, and some of the many other archival items the band has in their possession.

Andrew Glover brought material owned by Barnhouse Publishing Company for displaying at the King open house.

click to see details

Click the above image to see a closeup of the 1913 plate uses to print Barnum and Bailey's Favorite.
(To print correctly when it imprints paper, the plate reads backwards when viewed.)

Andrew Glover, Vice-President of Windjammers Unlimited Inc., wrote the following article published in Volume 46, No. 2 (March/May 2016) issue of Circus Fanfare:
Celebrating Karl King

     Famed circus music composer (and Windjammer Unlimited Hall of Fame member) Karl King's 125th birthday was celebrated February 19-21, 2016 with a weekend of celebratory events in his adopted home town of Fort Dodge, Iowa.   King was born on February 21, 1891 in the tiny hamlet of Paintersville, Ohio, but he spent the last half century-plus of his life in Fort Dodge.

Festivities began Friday, February 19 as employees of the C. L. Barnhouse Company, King's primary music publisher, enjoyed a birthday cake decorated with a few measures from one of King's most exciting circus galops, "Circus Days."   The cake has become an annual tradition at the Barnhouse Co. as part of Karl King birthday celebrations.

On Saturday, February 20, an open house was held at the Fort Dodge public library.   This event was organized by longtime King Band member and historian Nancy Olson, assisted by her daughter Susan, both Windjammers.   Nancy and Susan chose to feature music and artifacts from the earliest part of King's career: the nine years he spent trouping with various circus bands, first as a euphonium player and later as a bandmaster.

Exibists showcased each year of King's circus career, including maps showing the routes King traveled during each of those nine years.   In many cases, the route books, programs, advertising, and other fascinating artifacts from those years was displayed.  Of course, many Karl King musical selections were displayed as well, many showing dedications to circus performers and band members King worked with during his time as a circus musician.

Retired Fort Dodge music educator Larry Mitchell was on hand, attired in an authentic Karl King uniform, and in character as Mr. King.    Larry gave a wonderful presentation about King's life and career, from the first person, and captured Mr. King's sense of humor as well as his humility for which he was well known.

Also on hand was retired circus aerialist Sarah Chapman, whose career included tenures with Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, King Bros., Carson and Barnes, and a host of other shows.   Sarah spoke of the musicians with whom she worked during her career, including Bill Pruyn, Boom Boom Browning, and Illy Cervone.   Sarah, a Florida native who participated in the Sailor Circus as a youth, told many engaging stories about her life and career with the circus.

Present day King Band conductor Jerrold P. Jimmerson was also on hand, and brought a personal scrapbook containing many programs, news clippings, and photographs from his early years as a member of the King Band.

Also in attenance was the granddaughter of Karl King, Michelle King Matlock, who travelled from her home in Indianapolis.   Michelle enjoyed meeting many fans of her grandfather, and also shared many personal recollections of him.

On Sunday February 21, the Karl L. King Municipal Band presented a gala 125th birthday concert at Iowa Central Community College's Decker Auditorium.   Conductor Jimmerson selected a program featuring music from King's circus days.   Assistant conductor Dr. David Klee conducted two selections, and vocal soloist Robert Patton performed two selections with the band.   The concert was enthusiastically received by a large and appreciative crowd.   The Karl King birthday concert is a tradition with the King Band, and it opens a series of three indoor winter concerts, before the band moves outdoors for its summer concert series.

by Andrew Gover, WJU #423

A Monologue on Karl King was given by Larry Mitchell, who knew Mr. King personally.   Mr. Mitchell directed the Fort Dodge Glee Club for many years and the Glee Club always performed at the annual March concert with the Karl L. King Municipal Band, hence a close personal relationship with Mr. King.   Mr. Mitchell was the vocal music director in Fort Dodge High School, directed local musicals for many seasons, and leader of the Glee Club shows.

Click to hear what the acting Karl King said about his life as if he really was Karl King.

(This is a 20 mb MP3 file,)

There were two important special guests for this open house.
At center is Larry Mitchell, the Karl King impersonator.
Seen at right is Sarah Chapman, a former circus acrobatic aerialist.

Sarah Chapman came with materials documenting her circus life.  Some of those materials are pictured below.

Sarah brought books that she had written.

Sarah related her experiences as a circus performing aerialist.
She also informed the visitors about how music played a part.

Today's Karl King Band the Karl King Page Online Photo Archive of Fort Dodge Bands