By Craig Rolfe
The stirring sounds of marching bands will resound throughout the village of Vicksburg on Saturday, October 5. The 4th Annual Vicksburg Bulldog Marching Band Invitational will take over the High School stadium throughout the afternoon and early evening, offering great marching precision and musical performances.
This year’s event will feature a special exhibition performance by the Bronco Marching Band of Western Michigan University (WMU).
Bands from 15 Class A through D high schools are registered comprising a total of over 1,000 students. Marching bands from the following area high schools are presently scheduled to perform: Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo Hackett, Portage Central, Gull Lake, Galesburg-Augusta, Three Rivers, and Comstock. Other schools registered for this event include Springport, Olivet, New Buffalo, River Valley, Reading, Camden-Frontier, and Concord.
The WMU Bronco Marching Band will conclude the performance part of this event with an extended exhibition featuring parts of its legendary pre-game show, and one of its 2019 football game halftime shows. This very large and highly accomplished group is expected to entertain and excite the assembled bands and spectators in the grandstands.
The drumlines of Vicksburg and WMU will take center field for this year’s exciting Drumline Face-Off feature, which was wildly popular in its debut last fall between Vicksburg and Gull Lake.
Vicksburg’s percussion instructor, Roi Farnham, reached-out to WMU’s drumline leader to see if they would like to participate with Vicksburg’s drumline in the Drumline Face-Off. They responded by asking if it would be okay if they brought their entire band? They will be here to entertain with their 300-plus members, including many VHS graduates.
Following the competition part of the event and before the WMU band takes the field, the Vicksburg High School marching band, known as the Big Red Machine, will present its 2019 competition show – Pressure – as an exhibition. By custom, the host band does not compete with the other bands for a rating.
The bands performing for ratings will be scored by a panel of judges on various criteria, such as music performance, marching accuracy, music effectiveness, and visual effect. The band with the top rating across all four classes will take home an impressive Grand Champion trophy.
The Invitational is presently scheduled to begin at 12:55 p.m., when an ensemble of the Big Red Machine will perform the National Anthem. The first competing band will perform at 1 p.m. and be followed by the other bands performing at approximately 15-minute intervals, with a short dinner break for the judges built-into the schedule. The complete schedule is available on the internet at Vicksburgbands.com.
Whether you are a true “band geek,” just enjoy marching band performances, or are perhaps merely curious about all this “marching band” excitement, this is an event not to be missed. The admission charge is still only $6.00, and pre-school age children are admitted free. A variety of food and beverages will be available throughout the event. On-site parking is available at the High School and adjacent Middle School, and at the Administration Building (Old El). Overflow parking will be available on nearby neighborhood streets in close proximity to the stadium.
The Bulldog Invitational is an important fundraiser for the Vicksburg Band Boosters, which sponsors the event. A strong showing of support for this event by fans of the participating bands, and by the Vicksburg area community, will help sustain the Bulldog Invitational as a premiere annual scholastic marching band competition in this area, according to Ben Rosier, Vicksburg band director.
The busy Band Boosters will regroup right after the Invitational, as Vicksburg has again been asked by the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association to serve as a host site for the District XI Marching Band Festival the following Wednesday, October 9, to which the public is also invited to attend. A dozen or more marching bands from area high schools are expected to participate in this event.