O’Fallon IL Marching Panthers to host annual festival


The numbers are impressive for the annual O’Fallon Panther Band Boosters arts and crafts fair.

To note :

  • 40 years of tradition
  • 350 stands
  • 230 talented artists and artisans from across the region
  • Hundreds of volunteers

All proceeds from the event directly support O’Fallon Township High School music groups and Color Guard programs.

This year’s Craft Fair will be held from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, November 6 and from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, November 7 at the OTHS Smiley campus, 600 S. Smiley St. in O’Fallon.

Santa is planning to visit and the Madrigal Singers will entertain. For on-site catering, a pastry sale and a bistro are set up.

In addition to the Marching Panthers, the boosters support four concert bands – the wind ensemble, which performs at the Illinois Music Education Association’s All State conference in January; all chamber ensembles, pep band, musical pit, brass madrigal, flute choir, winter guard, two jazz bands and a jazz combo.

The fair is one of the largest and most well-known in the Saint-Louis metropolitan area, and without the dedication of volunteers it could not take place.

“It’s basically like running a small business all year round,” said coordinator Sarah Dobecki.

Dobecki has been the event coordinator for five years, accompanying the former coordinator, Barbara Rhodes, for two years. Its co-coordinators are Cheryl Tindall and Julie Fortier, who will take over next year and Dobecki will be a consultant.

“We are always looking forward to the Craft Fair so that we can connect with the community. This is an opportunity for our gang students to join those who support them as well. We are grateful for all the support we receive from OTHS, parents, family, friends and the community. All of this makes the O’Fallon group’s program one of the best in the country, ”said Dobecki.

“Many long-term gang parents have helped over the years. Some parents with more than one child in the group can spend years in service, ”she said. “Our treasurer for 13 years, Suzie Signore Hays, ‘retired’ after receiving her fourth child. She was a godsend.

Dobecki is grateful for the many hands, hearts and minds involved.

“It’s very difficult, but it’s impossible without a team. The group is a team sport, ”she said. “It can be fun, and it can be crazy. A big part of this is the camaraderie with the craft fair team and coordinators. I made lifelong friends because of it.

She credited Rhodes for the successful growth of the event.

“She was so dedicated. She made so many improvements, ”said Dobecki.

Parents in the gang are asked to work two shifts over the weekend, and over the past month around 50 key workers have worked on vendor rooms, food orders, indoor signs. and outside and whatever needed to be done.

This year, the show is digital – a QR code will provide access to a directory, a bistro menu, a list of sponsors and more.

Vendors are organized to stock a variety of products, from fluffy socks and handmade jewelry to woodcarvings and holiday treats.

New event feedback features

Dobecki said COVID-19 has impacted many vendors, who have retired or cannot risk their health as the pandemic continues. She said there are a lot of new suppliers. In addition, Dobecki is excited about “Invitation to Play”, which offers sensory play kits for children with special needs. This is the first time that such an offer has been offered.

Some of the popular returnees are hometown favorite Hawkins Leather, Nitro Salsa, downtown Courage & Grace – who donated items for their Facebook challenge – Willey Pottery and Licorice Guy, Dobecki said.

“There is something for everyone,” she says.

Dobecki currently has a son – a trumpeter – in the marching band in second grade, and had a daughter who played the clarinet every four years and is now a student.

Overall, Boosters promote the group in all ways as a nonprofit organization.

“We want to provide our children with the incredible experience that Dr G (Melissa Gustafson Hinds, principal) and Mr. Carter (Phillip, assistant) provide,” she said.

The Panthers prepare for a big competition

The Marching Panthers, busy with fall competitions, are considered one of the best in the state and region. Their next challenge is the Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indianapolis from November 11-13.

“It’s THE big one for us. The best bands from across the country come to this event. This year will be incredibly difficult with the top ranked national groups, ”said Dobecki.

The Marching Panthers made the final at the Bands of America St. Louis event October 22-23, placing ninth. They were the only group in Illinois to do so, among the powers of Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Missouri.

They were also named Grand Champion and 3A Champion and won the Auxiliary, Musical, Visual and General Effects Award at Lincoln-Way on October 16 and were Class Champions and Grand Champions at the Grand St. Louis Marching Band Competition on October 30. October, organized by the Belleville East and West Band.

Rose Parade in Pasadena

Appearing in several bowling games and college parades over the years, this New Years Day, the group will represent Illinois at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. This will be their fourth appearance.

Dobecki explained that the craft fair does not technically fund the trip to Pasadena.

“However, they are used for instructor fees, uniforms, show props and all the other things that make Pasadena possible,” she said.

Currently, 224 students are expected to travel to Pasadena, with staff and chaperones adding 25 to the group. This does not include all friends and family making the trip.

The skinny at the craft fair

For the weekend of the Craft Show, tickets will be sold at the door: $ 4 adult, $ 2 children aged 2 to 10 and weekend passes, $ 5. No strollers allowed. Medical assistive devices are always welcome on the OTHS Smiley Campus.

All clients, suppliers and volunteers are required to wear a face mask in accordance with school administration policy.

For more information, email: [email protected] or visit https://www.othsband.com/events_craftfair.


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