Crashes, bangs and booms are a Johnson County tradition during the Fourth of July season.

From the launch through the dizzying buildup, culminating in the explosive crescendo, enthusiasts watch transfixed at the show that unfolds in Johnson County Park.

Hundreds of people flock to the park to hear the annual concert by the Indiana Wind Symphony. The fireworks display that follows isn’t too bad, either.

Fanfare and Fireworks, the yearly concert mixing classical music with pyrotechnics, is getting bigger and brighter. Organizers have added a brass band to the performance, tapped one of the area’s most talented young singers to sing the national anthem and lowered ticket prices.

The hope is to invigorate the show after 28 years, reinforcing it as not only supporting an important cultural institution but providing top-quality entertainment to music lovers of all kinds.

“Symphonic music is going by the wayside more and more. It’s hard to get people to come out to the event, so we’re trying a couple of new things,” said Jan Schantz, vice president of the Franklin Symphonic Council.

Fanfare and Fireworks was founded in 1987 by local residents Dolores Rainey and Margo Martin. The event is the main fundraiser of the Franklin Symphonic Council, which is dedicated to enhancing the community’s education and appreciation of orchestral music.

Each year, the council pays for every fifth-grader in Franklin to attend a concert by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Members also raise money so that professional artists or ensembles can perform at elementary schools.

Scholarships are provided to middle school students to further their music education in the areas of vocal, woodwind, piano, strings and brass-percussion.

Fanfare and Fireworks makes all of those programs possible, Schantz said.

Addie Mudd, 13, received the Franklin Symphonic Council’s vocal scholarship this year. The $150 award will go toward her college fund, ideally to help her study vocal music after she graduates from high school.

The eighth-grader at Franklin Community Middle School also was chosen to perform the national anthem before the Fanfare and Fireworks concert starts.

“I was really excited when they asked me,” Addie said. “I have been practicing nonstop. I’m doing a choir camp right now, and the director has been giving me tips to work on with the anthem, so it won’t be terrible.”

Adding one of the scholarship winners to the concert slate was just one of the changes made to this year’s event, Schantz said.

The main alteration to this year’s concert is the addition of a “primer” performance. The Crossroads Brass Band, playing the type of British brass music made popular in the 18th century, will provide a unique and different sound to start the show.

The Franklin-based band has been performing since 2012. What started as a group of eight local performers meeting in Edinburgh has grown to be a full band of 28 brass players and five percussionists.

“They have a pretty big following of people to attend their shows, so we’re hoping that they’ll come out for part of the night,” Schantz said.

Their sound is more mellow and restrained than most brass ensembles, said Don Bookout, founder and managing director of the band. It relies on cornets, E-flat tenor horns and English baritone horns instead of the more traditional trumpets and French horns. Trombones add a bright quality to the music, while percussion instruments give it a unique rhythm.

Members have been rehearsing weekly for a slate of summer programs. Their set list for Fanfare and Fireworks includes the rollicking “Sweet Georgia Brown,” highlights from the musical “Les Miserables” and a round of songs by The Beatles.

The band hopes to not only add a new dimension to the Fanfare and Fireworks concert but to help introduce more people to their type of performance, Bookout said.

“No one really knows much about brass music in the U.S. But we’re growing, and we’ve found a home here in Franklin,” he said.

Still, the heart of the event remains the performance by the Indiana Wind Symphony. Led by founder and longtime director Charles Conrad, the symphony has been part of Fanfare and Fireworks for the past five years.

“It’s something we really enjoy. We get a chance to play a different type of music than you usually do during concert season,” Conrad said. “Playing the marches and other types of patriotic music is something that bands have done throughout the whole history of the ensemble, and it’s a great time of year to do that.”

This year’s program will mix a wide variety of selections, from John Phillip Sousa marches to Broadway tunes from “The Sound of Music.”

Jim Williams, a Franklin College business professor and euphonium player, will perform with the symphony on a new piece debuting at the concert titled “Evening Shadows.” Williams also will have a solo during the concert.

“We try to have some very familiar tunes and try to play a couple of things that the young kids will know too,” Conrad said.

Organizers have changed their ticket pricing. All admission will be for a flat fee of $5 per person, with those ages 17 and younger able to see the show for free.

Current members of the military and their families also get in free, Schantz said.

“We really want to encourage families to come out and have a picnic and enjoy a nice evening in the park with music and fireworks,” she said.

If you go

Fanfare and Fireworks

When: 6 p.m. to dark June 26

Where: Johnson County Park Amphitheater, located on Schoolhouse Road between State Road 252 and Hospital Road.

What: Annual fundraiser for the Franklin Symphonic Council featuring a symphonic music concert followed by a fireworks display.

Cost: Tickets are $5, with kids 17 and under admitted free. Current military members and their families are also admitted free.


6 p.m.: Gates open; concertgoers are encouraged to bring folding chairs, blankets and picnic baskets for the event.

6:30 p.m.: The Crossroad Brass Band performs.

8 p.m.: The Indiana Wind Symphony performs, featuring Franklin College professor Jim Williams playing a solo on the euphonium.

Fireworks will start after the second concert ends.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.