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State Fair Band Day - August 9, 2006

All five public high schools in Wayne County participated in State Fair Band Day in Indianapolis. Richmond was 3rd overall, followed by Centerville at 5th (top small band!), Hagerstown at 6th, Northeastern at 8th and Lincoln at 28th.  44 bands from across Indiana participated in this exciting annual event.  Additional photos may be viewed on WayNet's Flickr site.

Photos taken August 9, 2006


Wayne County Band Day Tradition Marches On...
by Shelly Grimes
© 2006 State Fair Band Day Program
Reprinted with permission

The Indiana State Fair Band Day competition has been a Hoosier tradition since 1947, but perhaps nowhere is this tradition more celebrated than in Wayne County.  Since 2002, every public high school in Wayne County has participated in National City Band Day.  this year, all five Wayne County high schools - Centerville, Hagerstown, Lincoln, Northeastern, and Richmond - will once again march for glory and county bragging rights at the 59th National City Band Day.

The Wayne County Band Day tradition began in 1959 when Richmond entered the competition.  Since then, the school has completed in every Band Day with the exception of 1984 and 1997.  This year's competition marks Richmond's 46th appearance.  Since the creation of the "Sweet Sixteen" format in 1967, Richmond has failed to make the finals only once (1995).

"We have third and fourth generation kids who are in our band.  They have parents and grandparents who competed in Band Day when they were in high school.  Everyone is very proud of that tradition," said Tony Ballin, Richmond's band director.  "Of course, a lot of things have changed.  There's a lot of pageantry involved now.  There are more props, it's more expensive and there are just a lot more things going on."

The Red Devil Marching Band, Band Day champion in 1973 and 1988, has embraced those changes to become a crowd favorite.

"We sell about 500 to 900 tickets in the Richmond Block each year," Ballin said.  "We have ex-band members follow what we're doing and come out and support us.  It's great to have that support."

Wayne County's Band Day presence got a boost when Hagerstown competed in 1960.  The Golden Tiger Band then took a 27-year hiatus until 1987, but hasn't missed a year since.  This year marks Hagerstown's 20th consecutive Band Day appearance.  During this streak, the band has failed to reach the Sweet Sixteen only once (1993).

"I do not sense a lot of pressure to make it to the top 16.  Most pressure is applied internally in an attempt to continue to move up in the final rankings," Hagerstown Band Director Eric Bowman said.  "It is our tradition to participate and give it our best."

Northeastern was the next to continue the Wayne County Band Day tradition.  The Marching Knights competed from 1989-1992 and then 1996 to present.  The band has made it to the Sweet Sixteen every year since 1997.  Although the school has a relatively small student population (less than 600 students), its band competes in the Large Band category.  Approximately 25 percent of Northeastern's student population participates in band, according to Northeastern Band Director Dan Merkamp.  Although Merkamp is new to the Northeastern program this year, he is certainly a familiar face around the Wayne County area and at Band Day.  The Hagerstown graduate served as band director at Winchester, Hagerstown and Eastern Hancock, and 2006 marks the 10th time he will bring a band to the competition.

Centerville was the next Wayne County band to become a Band Day staple.  This year marks the school's 16th consecutive Band Day appearance.  The Blue Regiment has become a dominating force in the Small Band category, winning six of the past seven years.

"Our motivation comes from challenging ourselves to grow personally, intellectually and musically through our marching program," said Centerville Band Director Charles Roesch.  "The main objective during performances is to be able to look another member in the eye and say, "I gave it my all for you."

Lincoln High School joined the Wayne County cast at Band Day in 2002 and has returned every year since.  Band Director Kathryn Paul-Morrison, now in her second year at Lincoln, said that although her band has yet to break into the Sweet Sixteen, she counts on every band member giving his or her best effort.

"For the past couple of years, we have placed between 24th and 25th.  The students have expressed their desires for achieving high goals to me this year, so we are going to strive for a major improvement," Paul-Morrison said.  "Of course, we would love to place in the top 16, but I will be happy with anything that is an improvement.  I always look at completions as a place to improve and have fun."

With so many of Indiana's top marching bands in such a concentrated area, some may think it is only natural for rivalries to arise.  However, all five Wayne County band directors agreed that any "rivalry" that may exist is just friendly competition.

"Some people will tell you there is a rivalry.  Some people will say, "We're out to beat so-and-so," but as far as the band directors are concerned, we're all friends," Ballin said.  "We help each other out; we borrow equipment and lend equipment out to other schools.  We're all friends in Wayne County, and we'd all ike to see every Wayne County school make it into the finals.

"Parents might say, "Oh, I saw so-and-so in the parking lot watching the practice!" And who knows if that's true or not, but certainly students in Wayne County go to each other's ice cream  socials, mostly out of curiosity to see what everyone has been working on.  There's a sense of camaraderie between the students."

That sense of camaraderie extends beyond the students and into the Wayne County community as a whole.

"I think that Wayne County has a lot to be proud of in the ability to have such a broad commitment to the Fair.  In that regard, I have always felt the different communities have shown great respect and support for each other," Roesch said.

Even with all the changes that Band Day has undergone through the years, including new band directors, it seems that the Wayne County Band Day tradition will continue.  This competition marks Bowman's first year as band director at Hagerstown, Merkamp's first year at Northeastern, Paul-Morrison's second year at Lincoln, Roesch's sixth year at Centerville and Ballin's 10th year at Richmond.

"I would say that over the next few years, Wayne County band junkies will have a lot to be proud of," Bowman said.  "We have great people at every Wayne County school right now."

Though the faces may have changed through the years, community support has remained a constant.  Undoubtedly, Wayne County residents will continue cheering on Centerville, Hagerstown, Lincoln, Northeastern and Richmond as they march for the prestigious title of Band Day Champion.

"Band Day has served to bring the Wayne County communities together in a very positive way," Merkamp said.  "The community has come to expect that each year many of us will take a day off work to go support our kids.  The love and support for the students through newspaper articles, radio commentary and friendly discussions at work are probably the best things about the activity in Wayne County.

"After all is said and done, it's about people living and working together to raise our kids in the best way we know how.  Band is a big part of that."

 

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