Gail & Steve Svor selected as band festival marshals

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Gail and Steve Svor are this year’s Pioneerland Band Festival grand marshals.

Steve and Gail Svor have been selected as this year’s grand marshals for the Pioneerland Band Festival set for Wednesday, June 14.

With all the road construction going on downtown Benson this spring and summer some people have been wondering how much the band festival is going to be disrupted. While there will be a lot of orange cones around, some sidewalks torn up, and street work taking place, City Manager Rob Wolfington said Monday that the construction contract specifically says that work will stop for the band festival and Kid Day.

The parade route for the band festival should be the same as in previous years. It will start on west Minnesota U.S. Highway 12 by Runnings and Do-Mat’s Family Foods, proceed east on Minnesota Avenue (U.S. 12), then turn north on 14th Street North and go to the Benson High School.

“The Svors have been active supporters of the Benson High School Music Department since their first child, Kelly, started band as a seventh grader in 1986,” parade committee member and Benson Public Schools 5-12 vocal music instructor Shelly Mikkelson said. She provided the following background on this year’s grand marshals:

The band director had contacted the Svor family when Kelly was in sixth grade about choosing an instrument and starting band lessons, but they had twin babies at the end of 1985 and thought piano lessons were all they could handle at that time.

Neither Steve nor Gail had participated in music when they were in school so they were both new to this idea of band and choir. Kelly loved choir in seventh grade and as a result began asking about playing an instrument.

Mikkelson, who was then the Junior High Band director, said they could actually use another baritone so she started band mid-year. The Svor family had four children: three played the baritone (Kelly 1992, Kristi 1997, and Josh 2004) and one (Kayla 2004) was a percussionist. 

They also participated in all the music programs offered at BHS: Choir, Chamber Singers, Pep Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Drumline, Vocal and Instrumental Competitions, and the musicals.

The Svor family has also provided the community with Svor’s Family Roller Rink in the Benson Armory for 37 years. There are very few roller skating rinks in Minnesota and most of them are in the metropolitan areas. Maintaining the rink was a challenge as their children were in music and played sports.

They have donated the use of their cotton candy machine, the cotton candy dye, and bags sold at the Band Festival for over 23 years. Steve and Gail’s goal has been to make memories for the children in the Benson community and they have definitely accomplished their goal.

The rink is open seasonally with the school year and shares the Armory gymnasium with the BHS gymnastics program.  

Steve and Gail are both retired but remain very busy. Steve worked for the City of Benson in the street department for 34 years. One of his responsibilities was to repaint all the crosswalks and curbs prior to the Flag Day Band Parade each year. He continues to stripe parking lots, has a gravel business, and farms. Gail worked as a registered nurse and diabetes educator for 41 years in the Benson community.  Since retirement, Gail has been busy with grandchildren and hobbies.  

In February 2015, Steve and Gail’s daughter, Kelly Svor Fuhrman, died after a 21-month battle with small cell lung cancer. In memory of Kelly, they have given a $500 Music Scholarship yearly to a senior who has been active in the music department, will be attending a four-year college, and will continue to use music in his or her life after graduation.

Kelly was a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead and was in the choir all  four years. As an Early Childhood/ Parent Educator teacher, Kelly used her guitar and voice in teaching, as well as in the churches they attended. Kelly’s husband, Corey, is a Lutheran pastor in Bemidji and two of her three children are marching in the Bemidji High School Band.

The Benson High School Music Department continues to be very important to Steve and Gail.  “We are very proud to represent Benson as Grand Marshals of the 2017 Pioneerland Band Festival.”

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