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As It Was: Historical Society Offers Summer Music Festival

Jacksonville, Ore., hosted a music festival long before The Britt Festival began in the 1960’s.  In 1889, more than 2,500 [twenty-five hundred] people attended the town’s band festival. All-day bands played on the balcony of the U.S. Hotel to crowds below in the street.

The Ashland City Band has held outdoor concerts since the 1890’s. The Butler band-shell in Lithia Park was completed in 1949 and still attracts hundreds to weekly summer band concerts.

Some early concerts were tiny.  A picture of a Rogue River band concert in 1912 shows four band members and an audience about twice that size sitting on a few benches. Some towns put extra effort into their concerts.  In the early 1900’s, the Greater Medford Club built a bandstand and the city strung lights and constructed benches to accommodate listeners at Liberty Park summer concerts.

On Aug. 5 this summer, a new music festival will be held under the trees at the Historic Hanley Farm on Hanley Road between Central Point and Jacksonville.  Five regional bands will perform from noon to 8 p.m., with food and drinks, a farmer’s market, and a raffle rounding out the day.

Sources: "Concert Band for Summer." Medford Mail, 19 Mar. 1909, p. 1.  "A Musical Treat." Democratic Times, 16 May 1889 [Jacksonville Oregon] , p. 2.  "Routine Work by Council." Medford Sun, 7 June 1909, p. 6.  O'Harra, Marjorie. "City Band Has Extensive History." Ashland Daily Tidings, 1961, p. 1. Sohs #20876 Woodville Concert. 1912, Photograph , Southern Oregon Historical Society, Medford Oregon.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.