40 years of Breakfast with Band on Autumn Festival day

Armidale Regional Council

This Saturday's Autumn Festival marks the fortieth year of the Armidale City Band's popular 'Breakfast with the Band' major fundraising event.

Affectionately known by the band as the 'Pancake Breakfast', it has grown from humble beginnings in 1982 to an Armidale Autumn Festival institution.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor, Sam Coupland said the band's 40 years of successfully running the 'Breakfast with the Band' was an outstanding achievement.

"The longevity of any community group is significant, however to have a musical group which is instrumental to the city's profile like the Armidale City Band and run an event like this for 40 years – that should be celebrated, " said Mayor Coupland.

"At all major events you can be sure to hear the Armidale City Band, including Australia Day and Carols in the Park at Christmas.

"We thank them for their long service to the community and wish them a wonderful celebration this Autumn Festival Day."

Vice President of the Armidale City Band, Mr Ken Peter started with the band 60 years ago playing the cornet and then the tenor horn. He explains that when the band started the breakfast it was mainly serving family and friends seated in Civic Park.

"We had twelve tables and a couple of barbeques cooking, hand sifted self-raising flour mixed with melted butter, egg, milk and a pinch of salt which was hand mixed in the kitchen by four ladies," said Mr Peters

"The mixture was run across from the band room in an ice-cream container to our cooks to serve."

Mr Peter said the reason for starting the breakfast in 1982 was that Armidale City Band needed to generate extra funds as they had a full senior band and enough junior members to form their own band. The idea came from a mother of one of the junior band members.

"The junior mother was Yvonne Walker, and she explained that where she came from in America, it was a tradition to have a cooked breakfast of a large pancake topped with ham and egg covered in maple syrup or blueberry sauce followed up with a pot of tea or percolated coffee and orange juice," said Ken

"The following year they decided to add the band performing as well and invited the general public from 7am to 10am. That led to the need to ask community clubs to help make the breakfast to allow the band to play, we invited the local service clubs to cook the breakfast and serve tea and coffee to the general public and they are still supporting the breakfast to this day.

"Of course Covid stopped us achieving our 40th year in succession, but it is worth the wait to achieve it this year with the Autumn Festival and our loyal supporters."

This has not been their only major fundraiser over the years as the band held fetes in the Mall until 1975. Following that time, Mr Peters said they had a musical director come to town and decided to find an old car and raffle it for two shillings a ticket with the funds raised lasting a year.

The Armidale City Band started in 1878 as a little band in the building known as the M.U.I.O.O.F which is now the St Kilda bottle shop. In 1908 they won the National Band Championships and in those days you rode a horse from Hillgrove to Armidale to join the band and went on the train and camped in showgrounds.

They played through both world wars. In the First World War members played with the 33rd battalion band which came out of northern NSW.

The band would like to sincerely thank the Service Clubs including Armidale Lions Club, Dumaresq Lions Club, Armidale Quota Club and CWA Armidale and people from Armidale and District, and the Armidale City Band members themselves who helped to make the 'Breakfast With The Band' what it is today.

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