Dubuque Summer Festival 1964


I always loved Vaughn's voice, and once had the pleasure of working with him when he came to Dubuque in 1964 to host our "Summer Festival." A friend put together a big band for him. Vaughn brought his arrangements and sang on two different evenings. It was memorable.

As for my memories of Vaughn - honestly, it's been so long ago - late June of 1964 - all I recall is that Vaughn was pleasant and respectful to the local musicians. The band would play an opening number. Vaughn would come on stage and sing a tune or two and then introduce the featured act of the night.

The arrangements were clean and easy to read, and the big attraction of the festival was Louis Armstrong. The band played him on and off the outdoor stage and we sat in awe of this living legend. I don't know what the Festival paid Vaughn for his six days of MC work, but I know they paid Louis a grand total of $500 for one night and thousands came to hear him on a beautiful, warm summer evening. They had signed Louis a year before, and he honored the contract at that price even though he had hit it big since then with Hello Dolly. Incredible.

I went to library this morning and found an article from the local newspaper -The Telegraph Herald - from June 30, 1965. Here it is word for word - not very well written and hardly insightful, but interesting none the less:

Being master of ceremonies for the Dubuque Summer Festival is a job that keeps a person busy. But Vaughn Monroe seems to be a man at home in the whirl of activities and interviews during his six day stay here.

His relaxed pleasant disposition is a necessity for someone who has traveled 150,000 miles entertaining since Jan 1. Personal appearances, night club acts and work for a national electronics firm take him all over the world during the course of a year. Monday, when his work at the Summer Festival is finished, Monroe leaves for Chicago to host the National Music Merchants Assn.

Monroe is an avid boater and almost qualifies as a senior member in the Boston U.S. Power Squadron. He has been active in the power squadron for five years and is presently safety officer.

His wife Marian accompanies him on the many longer trips that the entertainer is required to make. But for shorter jaunts, such as the one to the Festival, she stays at their home in Boston.

The Monroes are grandparents of a 16 month old boy, the son of their older daughter, Candace, 21, and her husband who is in the Air Force. They will be leaving for a tour of duty in Germany soon.  

Monroe first entered the entertainment field as a band leader, with a group that worked out of Boston. he was with that organization until 1953.

"I left the group so I could have more time with my daughters. I was able to be home much more then and I usually arrange to take off the month of December besides the six weeks in summer."

Monroe is probably best known for his theme song, "Racing with the Moon," which sold more than 2 1/2 million records. But two other records of his, "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "Dance Ballerina, Dance" have sold more than 4 1/2 million.

Working with Louis Armstrong and the comedy team of Ford and Hines as he has at the Festival is hardly a new experience for the master of ceremonies. He first met the trumpet player 15 years ago on the Milton Berle Show, and was recently on a Cleveland television show with Ford & Hines.

While in Dubuque, Monroe spent his afternoons at the building next to the Festival headquarters on Locust Street, signing autographs and visiting with Dubuquers.

"It's sort of my chance to relax and take it easy. The folks here are friend. It seems to be a wonderful river town."  



Submitted by: Paul Hemmer