Clown Band awards over $11,000 in scholarships

May 14, 2024

Scottville Clown Band, at the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival Parade, July 4, 2023. Photo by Brad Reed.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Clown Band has announced the recipients of its 2024 Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarships. This year, the band has awarded $11,152 in scholarships to middle school and high school students attending summer performing arts programs.

One of the primary missions of the Clown Band is to encourage youth to pursue the arts. Since its first scholarship recipient, Marty Erickson of Scottville, in 1966, the Clown Band has awarded over $550,000 in scholarships to youth. Erickson attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Following graduation from Mason County Central Erickson attended Michigan State University. There, he won an audition for the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. He served the Navy as the principal tuba player and became the auditions supervisor for the Navy band, was head of the brass section, chief-in-charge of the Navy Concert Band Division, and led the U.S. Navy Band Brass Quintet and Tuba-Euphonium Quartet. He recently retired as instructor of tuba and euphonium at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

Raymond Schulte, founder of the Clown Band

The majority of this year’s scholarship recipients will be attending Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in northern Muskegon County. The camp’s history has a close relationship with the Clown Band as it was co-founded by former Mason County Central band director Gilbert Stansel I.

Other scholarships recipients will be attending Interlochen Arts Academy, Lions of Michigan All-State Band, Central Michigan University Music Institute, CMU Music Camp, Music for All Summer Symposium in Muncie, Indiana, Atlantic Music Festival in New York City, Michigan Musicians Abroad in Indianapolis, Herter’s Music Camp in West Branch, Eisenhower Dance Intensive in Houghton, and Alma College Percussion Workshop.

The Scottville Clown Band was founded as the Merchants’ Band in 1903,  a community band that performed, in humorous costumes, in the Scottville area. The band’s popularity grew and by the 1930s it was unofficially known as the Scottville clown band, its center-point performances being the Scottville Home Harvest Festival and the Ludington Independence Day parade. During World War II the band, along with the Scottville festival, were suspended. In 1947, the Scottville festival returned as the Scottville Harvest Festival and downtown merchant, Raymond Schulte — a second generation member of the band — re-formed the band calling it officially the Scottville Clown Band.

Today, the scholarship program honors Schulte who passed away in 2007.

In addition to the Schulte scholarships, the Clown Band awards $1,000 annually to a West Shore Community College performing arts student through its Robert F. Pinkerton, Jr. Scholarship, named after Scottville merchant and pharmacist Bobby Pinkerton, who served as the Clown Band treasurer for over 50 years. Pinkerton passed away in 2019.

The Clown Band also annually awards grants to public school music programs in Mason, Lake, Oceana and Manistee counties through the dispersement from its George F. Wilson Memorial Endowment Fund. Wilson served as the street leader and master of ceremonies of the Clown Band from 1947 (when he was 15 years old) until his death in 2012. Wilson also served as the band’s secretary for several decades. In 2023, Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern band programs received a combined $5,900 through the band’s Founders’ Grant.

Local recipients of the 2024 Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarships include:

  • Baldwin Community Schools: Sofia Cole, Ray Griffin, Eli O’Quin, and Rebekah Alcala.
  • Hart Public Schools: Juan Guardiola
  • Hesperia Community Schools: Hannah Hiddema, Christopher Hiddema, and Landyn Annis.
  • Ludington Area School District: Abigail Field, Anastasia Parks, Ethan Blough, Griffin Jorissen, Kasen Carlsen, Karten Sherman, and Kendra Kyle.
  • Manistee Area Public Schools: Nathan Erlandson, Caleb Eilers, Christian Erlandson, Calista Lopez, Yael DeBoni, Evangeline Templeton, and Cady Brown.
  • Mason County Central Public Schools: Clara Baur, Lucas Mikulskis, Holden Bennetts, Colin Sullivan, Adriana Donahue, Emma Jancek, Sophia Edmondson, and Lanie LaPointe.
  • Montague Public Schools: Novalea Cannon, Charles Pease, Simon Morse, Robert Orwat, Natalie Farr, Jakob Dibble, and Austin Mair.
  • Pentwater Public Schools: Rodney Grondsma.
  • Shelby Public Schools: Mary Winterhalter, Kasey Oberlin, and Adalise Hayes.


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