Started in 1996 by The Fort Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce this event has brought in people from across the United States and Europe. As an event to benefit the local economy and bring visitors to our area it has been a great venue to honor our hometown hero, Glenn Miller. In 2009 the event was adopted by The School for the Performing Arts as a way to provide scholarships for students so that every child in our area that wanted to participate in the performing arts would be able to attend the school.
Glenn Miller, born March 1, 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa, graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1920 and went on to be a famous big band leader with many of his songs still well known today, including Chattanooga Choo Choo, Pennsylvania 6-5000; Little Brown Jug; Moonlight Serenade and In The Mood to name a few.
His family came to Morgan County in a Union Pacific boxcar with all their belongings and his parents lived here until their deaths. His dad was a custodian at Fort Morgan High School. Glenn attended the University of Colorado for a time and that was where he met his wife Helen. After his many successes he decided it was his duty to join the Army and in October of 1942 he became Captain Alton Glenn Miller of the United States Army. He was then transferred to the United States Air Force and formed the Army Air Force Orchestra with him as its leader. On December 15, 1944, his plane disappeared over the English Channel on his way to set up a concert for the troops.
The Fort Morgan Museum has a popular Glenn Miller exhibit and The Fort Morgan Times, under publisher Mac McKinnon, was able to raise funds to put up the road signs on I-76 stating we are the “Boyhood Home of Glenn Miller”
With renewed energy and vision The Glenn Miller SwingFest appears destined to grow and expand and become a destination event for our area. Expanded to four days and bringing back the big bands: 2011 The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and in 2012 The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra; this event will bring new dollars into town which will benefit everyone.
The majority of the events over the four days are open to all at no charge, allowing all local residents to participate. Only three events have a charge for admittance. The event is planned so there is something for all ages, backgrounds and interests.
Attendance at various events during the weekend will top 2000 people with plans to at least double that in the next few years. Our guests from out of state have higher disposal incomes and plan ahead to spend several days in Colorado. In 2010 that accounted for about 5% of those attending. The goal of the event is to increase this number each year along with the number of out of area visitors in order to increase the positive impact to our local economy, while having an event that can be enjoyed by our local residents.