Matt Kleopfer’s philosophy with his USD 257 band students has served the fledgling musicians well: go big or go home.
For the past four years, the Iola High School and Iola Middle School marching bands have garnered acclaim not seen since the era of Dale Creitz.
A number of upcoming events may be the group’s most ambitious yet.
In addition to a number of upcoming public performances, an audition to earn a slot in the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City and rehearsals for a series of competitions in October; Kleopfer, et al are putting the finishing touches on a major fundraiser Saturday evening.
The inaugural Iola Bands Fall Festival will fill the Allen Community College Red Barn with games, food, prizes and thousands of dollars worth of donated items for a series of drawings.
The goal, Kleopfer said, is to raise a needed $12,000 to fund a potential trip to the Big Apple next year for the famed Macy’s parade. (More on that later).
Right now, the focus is on drumming up public support for Saturday’s fundraisers.
The events kick off at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Red Barn.
Among the attractions are inflatables, train rides, carnival games, snack stations for cotton candy, sno-cones and other treats, and food provided by Dudley’s BBQ.
Wristbands giving youngsters unfettered access to all of the games cost $10 apiece, and can be purchased at the door. (Advance tickets sell for $7 at Westco until noon Thursday.)
PRIZE DRAWINGS are the centerpiece of the night’s action.
Local businesses, civic groups and other donors have chipped in with more than $4,500 worth of merchandise, tickets and other goodies.
The grand prize, valued at $520, is a “man’s dream package,” and features a Char-Broil TRU infrared gas grill and accessories, plus a $50 gift card from Bolling’s Meat Market.
And that’s just the start. At least 47 other packages — and counting — will be given away.
A special attraction: Kleopfer has volunteered to sit in a dunk tank for his students to target.
WHILE band supporters are spearheading Saturday’s fundraiser, the band students themselves have plenty of other things on their plate.
At Friday night’s halftime performance the Marching Mustangs will, on purpose, be out of step and out of tune. The Mustangs play Labette County at home.
It’s part of a piece Kleopfer has coined “Nerds vs. Idiots,” a light-hearted look at Plato’s philosophy regarding well-rounded students. According to Plato, students too absorbed in studying music, but little else, are the nerds. Those focused primarily on athletics, at the expense of the rest of their high school opportunities, are the idiots.
The presentation, at approximately 8 p.m., will have half the band playing perfectly in tune, but unable to march in straight lines. The others will be in perfect formation but noticeably out of tune. (To add to the authenticity, some of the students will perform on different instruments other than the ones they’ve studied previously.)
It should make for a memorable show, Kleopfer said.
Other performances include at homecoming Oct. 2, a joint performance with the IMS band Oct. 9, and the final presentation at the Oct. 23 home game. In addition, the middle school will provide its own show at the middle school’s home games Oct. 8.
Aside from the football field, the band will travel to Andover Wednesday, Baldwin Oct. 14, Farm-City Days Oct. 17 and at Independence’s Neewollah Parade Oct. 31. The Baldwin competition will give the Marching Mustangs an opportunity to defend their trophy, Kleopfer said.
In addition, the band students will help organizers at Saturday’s fundraiser.
“They have a lot going on,” Kleopfer said.