"Ladies and Gentlemen, the men and women you see before you comprise the oldest competing drum and bugle corps in the world! We hail from the beautiful city of St. Peter, and we are the Govenaires!"
The Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps is a non-profit organization which has been in existence since 1927. The Corps was first organized as the St. Peter Legion Corps in 1927. In 1944, under the direction of Cliff Hermel, the corps became active again and went on to win many state and local VFW and American Legion titles.
Other successful Minnesota drum corps during this time included the Laidlaw American Legion (now known as Minnesota Brass), Chisholm, Sleepy Eye, Litchfield, Faribault, Chaska, Pine City, Mankato, and Austin Legion corps, as well as the Hamm’s Indians, the Golden Valley Raiders, St. Paul Scouts, and the Mapleaires.
In the late 1950’s, the St. Peter legion was bankrupt and Cliff Hermel bought all the drum corps’ equipment. Also during this time Cliff and his wife, Katie, created two junior corps. The Black Knights were for members 8-13 yrs old, and the Crusaders were for members 13-21yrs. The St. Peter Drum and Bugle Corps continued to operate as a senior corps (members 21yrs and up) and officially became the Govenaires in the late 60’s. The name was changed to honor the five governors who hailed from St. Peter.
By 1975, the Crusaders and the Black Knights had folded because of the US’s involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. Quite simply, young men were being drafted and not returning from Vietnam. Up until this time women were not allowed in drum and bugle corps. This stems from the original legion corps’ whose members were men. Women were first allowed in the corps in 1966 although Margaret Mayer was an unofficial member for an entire year before that.
In 1976, the Govenaires were chosen to represent Minnesota at the National American Legion Convention in Seattle, again at the 1977 National Convention in Denver, and again in 1985 at New Orleans.
In 2004 the corps made it's first trip to the DCA finals competition in Scranton, PA. There they placed 2nd place in the Class A division. The Govenaires returned to Scranton in 2005 taking the second place position once again.
In 2006 the corps traveled to finals in Rochester, NY. In the midst of Tropical Depression Ernesto, the corps placed first in preliminary and finals competition. This was the first 1st place finish for the corps in 79 years.
Other big names in the corps include Bill Stangler, Bob Friedman, Pat Mayer, Margret Mayer, Greg Anisted, Stu Hanson, Nancy Hanson, Bill Wencl (eventually left the corps to start the Jesse James Gang in Northfield, who have since folded), Don Freid, Mike Mayer (who started Chop Stix percussion line in 1991 after he left the Govenaires), Nick Rosa, Lars Wach, John Mayer, Molly Mayer, Kurt Scheibel, James "Smoothy" Snyder, and Jeffery Peterson.
Nowadays, the Corps marches in many civic parades and competitions through out Southern Minnesota and the Midwest in addition to many acts of goodwill in the St. Peter/Mankato area. The Govenaires are active members in Drum Corps Midwest, which is an organization of drum corps from the Midwest, and have consistently been one of the top corps in their division.
As one of the oldest competing drum corps in the world and as one of only three competing drum corps in the state, the Govenaires are truly good will ambassadors for St. Peter, the State of Minnesota, and the drum corps activity.
Govenaires official web site