Members of the Meire Grove Community Band are honored and excited to be recognized by their local Meire Grove Cooperative and Cenex, and have received a $5,000 grant through the Cenex Hometown Community Pride grant program. This funding will be used to purchase new uniforms and percussion instruments.
“We are very grateful to the Meire Grove Cooperative and Cenex for making this donation possible,” said Gary Zwack, community band director. “Our members are able to participate at no cost, so this grant will help provide refreshed uniforms for them to wear with pride.”
Martha Meyer, manager of the Meire Grove Cooperative, submitted the grant request to CHS, Inc., which owns the Cenex brand. To qualify, she had to submit a narrative about what is unique about her town.
“The first thing I thought of is the Meire Grove Band. It has been a band for 136 years, and was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2017,” Martha said. She decided to put in an application.
Martha herself was part of the band for 10 years and played clarinet. She has a brother and son who are band members.
“The band is like a family. They enjoy each other’s company and they love music. They all get along great, and have fun doing it,” Martha said.
Band members range from age 14 to 84. Most of the current 60 members are from or related to someone in Meire Grove, and perform with their family members — grandparents, parents, and children. There has never been a problem keeping enough band members, Martha said. They perform from May to August or September at five or six local parades, and other venues such as the Sinclair Lewis Park in Sauk Centre and the Paramount in St. Cloud.
The Meire Grove Band, which is the longest continually performing community band in Minnesota, had its beginnings leading the annual Corpus Christi procession in the parish of St. John the Baptist in Meire Grove, which they continue to play for each year. The band began under the direction of teacher Nicholas Bohnen in 1883 for 10 years, then continued for 20 years under director Herman Meyer, a farmer and bookkeeper. Eberhard Hoehl, tailor, directed the band for the next four years, followed by George Baltes, son-in-law of Herman Meyer and a butter maker at the Meire Grove Co-op, for 42 years. Vern Meyer, grandson of Herman Meyer, took over directorship for 60 years, before the current director, Gary Zwack, began five years ago. Gary, son-in-law of Vern Meyer, is a retired band director of St. Cloud Tech High School.
With a strong tradition of family and community presence, the Meire Grove Band members were overwhelmed, happy and grateful for the grant provided by Cenex. Bryan Brignac, director of marketing for CHS, said, “Although this is the first year of grant submissions, we had a great participation rate. It made a lot of sense to choose the band as a recipient. They are both special and unique.”
CHS and Cenex awarded 20 grants to communities they serve, to honor and recognize how they make America special. They look for rural communities who offer unique ways in which they celebrate community and fellowship. The Meire Grove Band certainly fits the description, with its long history of bringing “the joy of music to the people of Meire Grove and beyond,” Martha said.
“I want to thank Meire Grove for their submission and for their contributions to the community,” said Bryan Brignac. “We are proud of our associates at Meire Grove Cooperative who are highlighting ways that make their hometowns special.”
About Cenex: Cenex, the energy brand of CHS, provides high-quality refined fuels through nearly 1,500 locally-owned convenience store locations across 19 states. Consumers depend on Cenex fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products to power homes, businesses and communities. CHS, Inc. (www.chsinc.com), which owns the Cenex brand, is a leading global agribusiness owned by American farmers across the United States with domestic and international operations including energy, agronomy, grain trading and food processing.