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Bands carry on long tradition
October 22, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photos by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Mitchell High School musicians and flag team members prepare for the marching competition in the Old West Weekend Band Festival. Mitchell earned a Division 1 Superior score in the parade competition

For the 33rd straight year, high school and middle school bands from around the area marched through downtown Scottsbluff last Saturday to take part in the Old West Weekend Band Festival. Originally, it was part of the Old West Balloon Fest.

After the parade, a field competition was scheduled at Bearcat Stadium with participants Gering, Scottsbluff, Ogallala and Alliance.

Although awards were handed out, the more important part of the event was giving band student real life learning experiences in playing for the public.

This year, the Gering High School band won the Crossroads Music Class Act Award, given for the highest score in the pre-parade inspection for appearance and discipline. “The last time we won that award was 11 or 12 years ago when Natalie Prokop was my drum major,” said Randy Raines, Director of Bands for the Gering schools. “She came back and we win it again. That was kind of cool and the kids were excited about that award.”

Gering received superior ratings in both the parade and field competitions on Saturday.

Raines told the band they would score high on the music performance end of the competition, which they did. “We had some glitches in the marching, just as every band did.”

He added the band was a lot of fun to be with on a Saturday morning. “It’s all about teamwork,” he said. “Everyone is important, from the last chair clarinet to the first chair trumpet.”

Mike Koch, band director at Bluffs Middle School, said the day went really well for his group of seventh and eighth graders. “I was pleased with how the kids performed. I heard several of them say it was a lot of fun and that’s always a nice comment. Plus the kids got some good feedback from the judges that will help us improve.”

Scottsbluff Middle School was also presented with a Crossroads Music Class Act Award.

Organized more than 30 years ago in part by Scottsbluff band director Dean Maxwell, the parade competition has become a tradition, not only for locals, but people around the area who come to participate. One year, the five-member Lingle-Ft. Laramie High School band came east to take part.

Koch said memorizing the music is just part of what the band needs to know. “There’s a lot of discipline that goes into marching band. Staying in straight lines and standing still at attention are also important. It’s difficult at first for the younger kids.”

Koch has been teaching at Bluffs Middle School for the past 18 years. Prior to that, he taught at Bridgeport for six years.
In the parade competition, Division 1 Superior scores went to Bluffs Middle School, Alliance Middle School, Mitchell High School, Bridgeport High School, Bayard High School, Ogallala High School, Gering High School, Alliance High School and Scottsbluff High School.

Earning Division 2 Excellent scores were Minatare High School and Morrill High School.

All four bands competing in the field show earned Division 1 Superior scores. They were Ogallala High School, Gering High School, Alliance High School and Scottsbluff High School.

Drummer Jason Doll warms up with some rudiments as the Gering High School Band prepares for their march through downtown Scottsbluff.
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