LUVERNE -- Organizers of the 66th annual Tri-State Band Festival offered advance warning that the celebrated band competition would proceed, come rain or come shine.
Mother Nature mostly got the message.
Although a stiff wind challenged color guard frills and flag bearers on Saturday morning, 14 area bands entertained an abundant audience along Main Street.
Eleven bands presented their varied field shows during the afternoon, with adverse weather conditions gradually developing that forced the last few bands to complete their programs in a school gymnasium.
But the Worthington High School (WHS) “Spirit of Worthington” Trojan Marching Band sailed to the top of the day’s parade ratings, besting their Class AAA rival, Stewartville High School, by a score of 80.8 to 72.9. The 170-member WHS ensemble claimed the Parade Sweepstakes and People’s Choice awards for good measure.
Saturday marked the Trojans’ first competitive parade appearance with its new “Hooray for Hollywood” show, which director Jon Loy intends to take all the way to the Hollywood Christmas Parade in November 2017.
“We were the host band at the Turkey Day parade, and the Lake Crystal ‘Battle of the Bands’ in June was cancelled due to bad weather, so this was really the first time for us under the judges’ microscope with this show,” explained Loy.
“We marched with great anticipation for the judges’ response, and fortunately their comments were very favorable and offered us some great insight into how we can make our show even better.”
With the People’s Choice award in hand as evidence, the Trojans elicited praise from diehard WHS fans and other bands’ followers alike.
“That was a fantastic show,” expressed a random female passerby to WHS band parents sporting Trojan spirit wear following the parade.
For the 2016 season, the Trojans have five student band commanders: seniors Chris Nelsen, Tanner Nordseth, Megan Wass and Makayla Ebbers, and junior Max Langerud.
Gary Nordseth, Tanner’s father, said, “I’m very proud of the entire band. They have an impressive show, and the hard work and long hours they’ve put into it shine through.”
Another band dad, Kevin Ferguson of Luverne, is equally proud of the effort his two children -- Kyle, a seventh-grade trumpeter, and Julia, a 10th- grade saxophonist -- are making in Luverne bands this year.
“This is great,” Ferguson said of his kids’ band involvement while he awaited the start of the parade. “My kids enjoy band, and it’s not a video game.”
Under the direction of Richard Owen, the Luverne High School band is presenting a “Phantom of the Opera” parade and field show theme this season.
The attentive spectators offered vigorous applause and due respect to the military color guard that preceded the Tri-State Band Festival’s parade competition.
Receiving special recognition on the day were Tom and Lola Haugen, who were named the 2016 parade marshals. Tom Haugen served as the Luverne High School band director from 1965-71 before the couple moved from the area.
In 1982, the Haugens founded Tri-State Band Judges, which has provided its services to the Tri-State Band Festival ever since. Last year, the Haugens sold the business to Lane and Jennifer Powell.
Thus, Tom Haugen was able to appreciate the parade of bands for its sheer entertainment value rather than as a judge, taking in the programs -- from Adrian’s New Orleans-style “Basin Street Blues” to Murray County Central’s contemporary “Uptown Funk” to George-Little Rock’s “Evil Ways” -- in the same manner as the bulk of the attendees.
Next Saturday, the WHS Trojans Marching Band will perform at the Sioux Falls Festival of Bands for the first time in four years, and its competitive season will continue thereafter with appearances at Chester, S.D. (Oct. 7), Chamberlain, S.D. (Oct. 8) and Anoka (Oct. 29).
“I hope the band will continue to put its best foot forward,” commented Loy. “Our season is filled with a lot of opportunities to shine, and to watch and learn from other bands.
“We have a very special band this year -- the kids are so hard-working and humble -- and that’s what makes it fun.”
Class A-1: 1. Garretson (S.D.) 2. Adrian 3. George-Little Rock (Iowa) 4. Boyden-Hull (Iowa)
Class A: Murray County Central
Class AA: 1. West Central (S.D.) 2. Tea (S.D.) 3. Lennox (S.D.) 4. Pipestone Area
Class AAA: 1. Worthington (plus People’s Choice and Parade Sweepstakes)
Class AAAA: Brandon Valley (S.D.)
Class A: 1. Sibley-Ocheyedan (Iowa) 2. West Lyon (Iowa)
Class AA: 1. West Central (S.D.) 2. Lennox (S.D.) 3. Madison (S.D.) 4. Pipestone Area
Class AAA: 1. O’Gorman (S.D.) (plus KM Getman award) 2. Yankton (S.D.)
Class AAAA: 1. Sioux Falls Roosevelt (S.D.) 2. Brandon Valley (S.D.)