The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 2, 2013

Longtime volunteer Al Fox has helped Tri-State 20-plus years

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Tri-State Music Festival officials are good about noting the support of the Enid community in maintaining the festival, which began in 1932.

Al Fox is one of the longtime volunteers. As part of Enid Amateur Radio Club, Fox has worked more than 20 Tri-State Million Dollar Parades, helping to keep things moving along.

Fox moved to Enid 32 years ago and raised his family here. His three children went through Enid schools and performed in Tri-State, and two grandchildren, so far, have done the same. One performed this year.

Fox said when he started working with the parade there were about 80 bands involved. The number has declined since then, as the festival has changed throughout the years.

“Part of ham radio is public service. We help with the parades and events, and Tri-State is a natural fit,” Fox said.

He retired this year as special events coordinator for the club. He is so passionate about the club and events that Fox said he would not sleep the night preceding an event, hoping nothing would go wrong.

“I let someone else have the privilege this year,” he said.

For the Tri-State parade, club members have the list of bands and the order of march in the parade. Members find the bands and line them up in order before the parade starts. He said finding the bands is not always easy, because they are “all over the place.”

Once the parade starts, ham operators try to keep things moving, using their radios to maintain communication. The club also stations a member at the reviewing stand, so if there are any sudden changes, they can be aware.

“I like to say we’re the glue that holds it all together,” he said.

The club also works the Cherokee Strip Days Parade and a number of other events in Enid, as well as talking to other people all over the world. At the events, they also work with Enid Police Department to help keep traffic out of the area, he said.

Fox said former Tri-State director Leon Jewell fainted during last year’s parade and two of ham radio members, one of whom is an emergency medical technician and one studying to be an EMT, attended to Jewell, while a third member called an ambulance.

Another year, a club member passed out during the parade.

Some of the things he remembers about Tri-State are things not seen by the public, such as when school bands use the same instrument for several different grades. When one grade finished, they immediately run the instruments back to other students, who will use them next, Fox said.

The club currently has about 20 active members, and Fox said about 12 will work at Saturday’s parade.

“The size of the parade has changed, and the number of states represented, but the structure hasn’t changed,” he said.

The parade, featuring 21 bands, will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the Grand Concert at 3 p.m. at Enid High School auditorium.