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Hermannfest: Sounds of thunder shake the valley

Staff photo by Gage Cureton Tom Paluch of the Concord Singers wears a Mickey Mouse hat as the group performs at Hermann Heights Saturday during Hermannfest.

NEW ULM — Hundreds of spectators — with or without hearing protection — were treated to the sounds of thunder Saturday, underneath the shadow of Hermann Monument.

Marking the sixth official year of the Hermannfest celebration, spectators gathered in Harman Park for the annual Thunder in the Valley performance with an array of 1800s muzzleloading cannons.

John Fritsche of the New Ulm Battery said that a half hour before the battery commenced firing, the total of guns amounted to eight.

But within 15 minutes of the guns belching flames, two Parrott rifle cannons from Battery I of the Twin Cities area arrived to bolster the battery’s numbers.

Members of area batteries were quick to unload the cannons from the arriving trailers and move the guns into position on the line with haste.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton A member of one of seven battery groups is shrouded by smoke as he prepares to load a cannon during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest.

Following a posting of the colors by the New Ulm color guard, the cannons commenced fire, with each cannon blast timed to fire along with the Municipal Band’s performance. Musical Director Don Jirak and Tom Bierer of New Ulm Cathedral High School coordinated the performance. Bierer walked the battery line and signaled each cannon blast with the wave of his hand — the cannons acting as glorified percussion pieces.

The six gun crews participating in the performance are represented by Marve Roose of Lakeview, Iowa; Keith Mentzer of Early, Iowa; Bill and Lee Coppersmith of Gettysburg, South Dakota; David Thompson of Ankeny, Iowa; Battery I of the Twin Cities area; and Ken Monroe of Pell Lake, Wisconsin.

Several members of the Minnesota National Guard assisted the cannon crews, their uniforms a stark contrast to the old Army blues of the Union Army.

Hermannfest also featured a smorgasbord of performances by bands and artists such as Dain’s Dutchmen, the Wendinger Band and the Concord Singers. The evening also marked a performance by Time Machine, a Rochester-based tribute band playing popular songs of the 1970s and 80s.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton A member of one of seven battery groups is shrouded by smoke as he prepares to load a cannon during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton Members from area battery groups offload one of two Parrott rifle cannons from a trailer at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest. The Parrott cannons arrived shortly before the Thunder in the Valley performance kicked off.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton Members from area battery groups offload one of two Parrott rifle cannons from a trailer at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest. The Parrott cannons arrived shortly before the Thunder in the Valley performance kicked off.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton Members from area battery groups offload one of two Parrott rifle cannons from a trailer at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest. The Parrott cannons arrived shortly before the Thunder in the Valley performance kicked off.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton The Concord Singers perform at Hermann Heights Saturday during Hermannfest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton New Ulm Municipal members' reflections are shown on an instrument as they perform during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton A member of the New Ulm Battery loads their cannon after firing it during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest. Being the host unit for the performance, the New Ulm Battery was the first to commence firing as the Municipal Band played.

Staff photo by Gage Cureton Members of the New Ulm Battery fire their cannon during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest. The performance featured 10 cannons from six battery groups from across the Midwest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton New Ulm Municipal Band Director Don Jirak directs the band during the Thunder in the Valley performance at Harman Park Saturday during Hermannfest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton The Concord Singers perform at Hermann Heights Saturday during Hermannfest.

Staff photos by Gage Cureton The Concord Singers perform at Hermann Heights Saturday during Hermannfest.

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