By Sue Moore
Marching band music will be ringing out of the Vicksburg stadium for seven hours of terrific band shows on Saturday, October 7 from 2 to 9 p.m. It’s the second annual Vicksburg Bulldog Marching Band Invitational, organized by the Band Boosters as a fundraiser while providing the community with some of the best band shows in the area.
Bands large and not so large have signed up to perform, from the smallest class D to the largest class A bands from Mattawan and the two Portage high schools. The inaugural show last year featured 15 bands. It’s grown to 20 committed to perform this year according to Craig Rolfe, the show’s volunteer organizer.
Logistics for bringing around 3,000 performers onto the school grounds, accompanied by that many more followers of the bands as paying customers, could be a planning nightmare. Fortunately, Rolfe has plenty of help from volunteers in parking, ticket taking, food service, band management and judging roles. Last year, band members were charged with clean-up and Rolfe said there was nary a piece of debris left anywhere on the grounds when he took a Sunday-morning inspection tour.
A unique feature this year will be a drum line face-off between Vicksburg’s drum section and one from a Class A school, Portage Central. This was a suggestion from Vicksburg’s own drum line instructor, Roi Farnum, who said it should be a tremendous entertainment feature. Vicksburg’s band, as the host, will not be competing but will perform its 2017 show as an exhibition at the end of the event while band members await results of the judging and awards presentation.
Bands like to compete as a way to improve skills, so judging is an important element of the event. There will be two award ceremonies, the first for class B and D bands midway through the event, the second at the end of the show will be for class A and C bands. They are judged on music performance, music effect, marching performance, visual effect, percussion and color guard. Considered as part of the numerical score is difficulty of the drill and the music being played. A grand champion trophy will be given to the band with the highest score of all the participating bands.
Vicksburg’s Big Red Machine competes in several invitationals, mostly in the Grand Rapids area. It was the organizers’ idea to bring a competition closer to southwest Michigan so bands wouldn’t have to travel as far and lower some of their costs of competing.
Bands planning to attend include: Hackett, Camden-Frontier, Springport, Climax-Scotts (new) and New Buffalo in Class D; Constantine, Schoolcraft, Berrien Springs, Olivet (new), Dowagiac (new), Hartford (new), Coloma (new), Fennnville (new) Galesburg-Augusta (new) in Class C; Plainwell, Three Rivers, Gull Lake in Class B; Mattawan, Portage Central and Portage Northern in Class A.
The organizing committee includes Rolfe, Ann Marie Earl, Ben Rosier, Jake Munson, Dawn Knedgen, Lisa Hoover, Tracy Locey, Steve Warner, Skip and Chad Knowles. The food and beverage offerings will be conducted by a partnership of the Band Boosters and the Athletic Boosters.