All-Ohio State Fair Band Puts Local Kids On National Stage

  • 7/6/2018 2:35:05 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

COLUMBUS, OH - Every year, high-school marching band directors from around the state select several students from their bands to participate in the All-Ohio State Fair Band (AOSFB) - a concert and marching band made up of over 200 students that play at the State Fairgrounds in Columbus for two weeks while the Ohio State Fair goes on. 

We spoke to AOSFB Director Brian Dodd, who explained why more high school band directors should send their students to the program.

"The overall musicianship in that group is incredible," Dodd said. "You're playing with some of the best kids in the state of Ohio... just coming down and playing with the caliber of musicians, playing the music that we select, and working with those kinds of directors and instructors - automatically, you know, the kids are going to improve just by doing that."

Founded in 1925, the All-Ohio State Fair Band was originally created as an all-boys band. Students would arrive mostly by trains and sleep in tents on the State Fairgrounds as they made fires and cooked all their own meals. Today, the band is all-inclusive and students stay in air-conditioned bunks, with a cafeteria that provides students with their meals each day. The band regularly plays to crowds of thousands as visitors from all parts of Ohio and even tourists from other states visit the State Fair for food, fun, and entertainment.

Dodd says that the program serves not only as a way for students to improve as musicians, but to come back to their school marching bands and become better leaders in their own right.

"This is my 34th year as a high school director that I've had students in the band. I've sent kids all those years, even before I was on-staff... I let kids miss band camp some of those years," Dodd recalled. "Those kids come back so much more energized. The level of musicianship is incredible. They come back and they're role models. Their musicianship and their leadership's increased. It makes them so much better. That's why I feel so strongly about it. I think it not only is great for the fair, but it helps the programs sending those kids to us."

The All-Ohio State Fair Band is unique to Ohio, as no other state in the nation has another program quite like what the Ohio State Fair has to offer. The band's sister group, the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, also sees students from all over Ohio join to sing and take part in choir-based music performances, sometimes joining the State Fair Band in dual performances.

For more information on the All-Ohio State Fair Band or the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, ask your school's band director about joining the program or visit their respective websites at AOSFB.com and AOSFYC.org.

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