Pioneerland Band Festival set for Friday, June 14

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Benson’s 32nd annual Pioneerland Band Festival is scheduled for Friday, June 14.

President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation May 30, 1916 establishing a national Flag Day to be celebrated each June 14. It honors the American flag, which was adopted June 14, 1777, by the Second Continental Congress when it passed the Flag Resolution stating: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

While the stripes have remained the same, the flag now has 50 stars representing the 50 U.S. states.

The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. and will follow the traditional parade route beginning on west U.S. Highway 12 by Runnings and the State Bank of Danvers, proceed east on Minnesota Avenue (U.S. 12), then turn north on 14th Street North and go to the Benson High School.

The bands coming this year, and their order in the parade, are: Litchfield, Waconia, Alexandria, Champlin Park, St. Cloud Solar Sound, Bemidji, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Sartell-St. Stephen, Dassel-Cokato, Maple Grove, Fergus Falls, Richfield, and Foley.

 “Music has certainly been an important part of my life and has afforded me experiences beyond anything I could have imagined,” Ken Amundson, the grand marshal for the year’s Pioneerland Band Festival, said.

He was born just northwest of Clontarf on a small farm place, but father, Harris Amundson, moved the family into Benson in 1949 when he was four years old.  

However, after the eighth grade his parents moved the family from Benson to the Twin Cities area. “This had a sad and profound influence on my life and I always wished to return to my hometown, where as a young boy I thought, if you don’t live in this town, you probably wish you could,” he said.

His father was well known for repairing and selling violins. When his father passed away, Ken start his own violin repair/sales business. “I inherited all his tools and a few violins and realized that I had also inherited the love and the aptitude for the business,” he said.

In the middle 1980’s he used his passion and knowledge for music to start a business, and then taking it to another level with the opening of a shop on main street in Alexandria in 1989.

He operated his business there for 20 years before moving.

During 20 years Amundson violin operated in Alexandria, Amundson says he was fortunate to meet many people in the entertainment business. 

He then moved this business to St. Paul where he operated it for the next eight years.

 The chance to finally come back to Benson and his childhood friends came in 2012 when he moved his violin business to the corner of 14th Street and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Benson. He has since closed his downtown shop, but still does work on violins at his home...

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