By LAUREN PORTER
Special to the Herald
Tis the season for Friday night football. The familiar lights of Womack Field ignite the Blue Devil spirit in all of us. Some of the best parts of football are what might be referred to as the “Double T” (tailgating and touchdowns), but every true band guru knows that music is what makes the game come alive.
In terms of marching band, game time actually starts at halftime — when horns are aligned at the perfect angle and toes are pointed sharply. While it may serve as a break for the football team, halftime is a marching band’s chance to polish their performance before a Saturday competition.
Since 1973, Statesboro High School has been host to one of the largest marching band competitions in the state. This year, that tradition continues on Oct. 26 as Statesboro High School’s Marching Blue Devils sponsor the 43rd annual East Georgia Marching Band Championships.
On that day, 17 bands will come from all over the region to showcase their marching skills on Womack Field and compete for recognition in different categories. Band classifications from A to AAAAA are determined by wind players and rated Fair, Average, Excellent or Superior according to a point scoring system. With marching season winding down soon, the stakes are high for bands to put their best foot forward and finish on a superior note.
Participants will compete based on the size of the marching band. Each band will perform for a panel of seven judges. The judges’ critiques will focus on areas of music performance, music effect, visual performance, visual effect, percussion, drum major and auxiliaries.
To help get the competitors ready for their performances, SHS students and band boosters will be volunteering in various roles throughout the day. This includes tasks like helping in the judges’ booth or setting up field equipment before a show. From routing the bands to presenting the awards, the event is mostly run by the students — a commendable note, considering the intricacies that are involved in hosting 17 bands in a single day.
“They really make the whole thing work because if they aren’t there to grease the wheels and move behind the scenes, the event would not be successful,” said SHS band booster publicity chair April Burke.
At the end of the evening, Statesboro High School’s Marching Blue Devils will perform their 2019 show entitled, “The Music of Michael Jackson.”
This year’s exhibition band, scheduled to perform at 8:30 p.m., will be the Southern Pride Marching Band of Georgia Southern University, whose halftime show is entitled “Women of Pop.” The awards portion of the evening is scheduled to take place at 9 p.m.
Participating bands include Portal Middle-High, Jenkins County, Washington-Wilkes, New Hampstead, Harlem, Taylor County, Tattnall County, Toombs County, Liberty County, Bryan County, Thomson, Mary Pearsons, Southeast Bulloch, Glynn Academy, Evans, South Effingham and Grovetown.
Admission is $7 per person, and the event is open to the public. All proceeds go to the SHS band music program. The event will run from noon to 9:30 p.m. Full concessions will be available throughout the day, with many vendors on site.
“Last year, the kids worked really hard and it was incredible because we made enough money to help the Marching Blue Devils cover trip costs to go to Washington, D.C. and march in the Cherry Blossom Festival,” Burke said.
This year, the band hopes to use some of the money for their travels to San Antonio, Texas, where they will attend the Battle of the Flowers Parade.
For those who are unable to come out and enjoy the championships, the Marching Blue Devils will finish up their season in the Deep South Classic Marching Band Competition, hosted by Wayne County High School on Nov. 2. Located an hour and 30 minutes from Statesboro, this competition will be easily accessible for anyone who wants to show support for some of Statesboro’s most talented musicians.