About Ladner Bandfest
In the winter of 2004, the idea of an event was put into motion. What if there was a festival of bands organized that invited adult community bands to an afternoon of music performed outdoors in the park and accessible to the public and participating musicians?
Curt Jantzen, conductor of Delta Music Makers, saw his vision start to take form and with his contacts in the music community around the Lower Mainland, he was able to assemble a group of musicians and volunteers who shared in the excitement of this new event. He then teamed up with Brian Ellis, bass clarinetist with Delta Music Makers, to arrange a meeting with Delta's Mayor, Lois Jackson, and 'pitch' the idea. They received wholehearted support and it was agreed to do a trial run in June 2004 with three bands - Delta Music Makers, Richmond Legion Band, and Park City Band.
June 12, 2005 was the inaugural Ladner Bandfest with eight bands playing on two stages on the Sunday afternoon. Word spread and in 2006, the Bandfest had eleven bands vying for a spot.
2007 was a landmark year – 17 bands applied to perform at the Bandfest and the committee was faced with the decision to expand to a two day format. This was accomplished with cooperation of Delta Parks and Recreation allowing us to keep stages and equipment on site overnight and host all 17 bands over two days. In spite of inclement weather on the Saturday, all bands turned up and played.
2008 saw the enrolment drop back to 11 bands and as a result, Sunday was the only performance date. The highlight of this event was the brand new mobile Showstage provided by the Corporation of the City of Delta. The crew from the city had to turn up very early that morning, as they had never assembled the mobile stage in its full format prior to our event!
The Fifth Ladner Bandfest came back strong in 2009. Twenty bands registered for the two day format, including Nanaimo Concert Band from Vancouver Island and Orcas Island Community Band from Washington State. We were also honoured to welcome Dal Richards to the podium to speak to us about community music and lead two bands as a guest conductor.
Since that year the Bandfest has hosted 20 – 21 bands during the two day event. Although not all bands can come for every Bandfest, 3 bands have managed to attend every year and 13 bands have played 5 times or more. These bands are drawn from a pool of 32 bands that have played over the years. It has proven popular with amateur musicians everywhere because it is the only place where the bands can hear each other. A community band, by definition, performs in its own area, so it is rare that two or more groups come together. Although the bands don’t play together, many members play in more than one band and you may notice these musicians becoming “quick-change” artists as they change uniforms (and sometimes instruments) as they dash from one stage to the next.
In 2015 we enjoyed our biggest year! Record crowds enjoyed 24 great performances, including the world famous Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy.