The Fox Valley Music Festival was the creation of a group of devoted music directors who wanted their young people to have the experience of singing and playing with others of their own age as a reward for hard work in their home schools, as challenge, and as inspiration gained by sharing their music.
On May 4, 1928, directors and students from 10 Fox Valley area high schools met at St. Charles High School for their first Festival. At afternoon and evening programs, each school contributed its own band, orchestra or choral group and shared in a combined choral group, a combined orchestra, and an all-school band conducted by Fox Valley school directors.
Founders of the Fox Valley Festival included Margaret F. Pouk and M.W. Rosenbarger (East High, Aurora); Harry H. Nigro and Helen Campbell (West High, Aurora); H. Diehl and Paul Shelley (Batavia); Julia Schraeder (Dundee); Emma Knudsen, U.K. Reese and Frances Bartz (Elgin); Robert Yingling (Geneva); Carl Huffman (Harvard); Mrs. P.H. Miller (Plano); Bertha Eells (Sugar Grove); and Alexander Harley (St. Charles).
Very soon, the idea of having a huge chorus with selected singers from all schools came into being, with a large selected band and orchestra sharing the Festival. Guest conductors of outstanding musicianship were invited and men like the venerable George Dasch, the famed Olaf C. Christiansen, Tauno Hannikainen of the Chicago Symphony, University of Michigan's William D. Revelli, Raymond Dvorak of the University of Illinois and many others responded with their talents.
Many consider the Fox Valley Music Festival to be one of the oldest continuing music festivals in the United States.