Return of Mr. Van's band in Tonganoxie for summer celebration

Tonganoxie Community Band director Charles VanMiddlesworth directs a group of roughly 30 musicians at the band's 2007 annual concert in the VFW Park. Enlarge photo

March 30, 2016

The Tonganoxie Community Band was a standard for several summers at Tonganoxie VFW Park.

Around the July 4 holiday, the band would play a variety of numbers — from movie theme songs to patriotic scores.

Charles Van Middlesworth, band director at Tonganoxie High School and Tonganoxie Middle School, directed the group that drew members from Tonganoxie, McLouth, even Overland Park.

But Mr. Van, as his students affectionately call him, found it difficult to devote time to the band each summer and decided to take a break from the event a few years ago.

With the upcoming Tonganoxie Sesquicentennial, however, the music director decided to bring the band back in honor of the special celebration June 10 and 11.

The band will perform on the main stage on June 11 near Gallagher Park, which is just south of Tonganoxie Water Park.

For previous years, Van Middlesworth had weekly practices leading up to the event at which musicians of varying experience levels came together to rehearse.

Van Middlesworth is working on a practice schedule for this year’s performance, but also is trying to recruit band members in the process.

Anyone interested in joining the band can call Tonganoxie High School at 913-416-1460 and ask for Van Middlesworth.

As more information is available about a rehearsal schedule, it will be posted at Updates about the festival, including the community band, also can be found at the sesquicentennial’s website,

There still are some time slots available for musicians and other performers at the sesquicentennial, but many have been musicians and other performers have been scheduled already.

Acts booked so far for Friday night are County Road 5, Stranger Creek Band, Right on Red, harpist Calvin Arsenia, Matt the Magician, Clair Up There and The Shanks. Facepainting also will be available.

On June 11, Tonganoxie Community Band, Tonganoxie United Methodist Church Band, Tonganoxie Christian Church Band, School of Rock, Jukebox Zeros, the LB’s and First City Performers and Story Tellers are some of the earlier performers.

The Team Tongie Bed Races will take place midday Saturday and face painting and Clair Up There again will be on hand.

Tonganoxie’s Got Talent will be staged June 11, while Brandon Miller and Electric Needle Room also are scheduled to perform, with Matt the Magician again entertaining audiences.

In the evening, Roz and Nathan McCommon, Rattle and Hum and Big Time Grain Company are some of the final performers.

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