After being in Waubay for 11 years, the Lake Region Marching Band Festival has a new home in Groton.
Eighteen bands are scheduled to perform on Main Street beginning at 10 a.m. Friday. The Northern State University Marching Wolves also will be performing a field routine for the middle and high school band students.
The venue was changed this year when Al Stewart, now the superintendent of the Grant-Deuel School District, left his previous post in Waubay.
"Al Stewart was the backbone of the festival," said Groton Area School music instructor Reid Johnson. "He started and organized it in Milbank and, when he became the superintendent in Waubay, he brought the festival to Waubay with him."
The option of hosting the festival, which attracts bands from as far away as Castlewood and Miller, was opened to schools in the area.
"As directors, we threw around ideas on where the festival could be," said Kim Carda, Aberdeen Roncalli band director. "We wanted that small-town feel."
The Groton Area School District figured Groton had a good location, facilities and streets, so it took on the responsibility of the festival, which draws hundreds of performers and spectators. Johnson said volunteers came from the community and additional help came from the Groton Chamber of Commerce and other businesses.
Groton will become a permanent site for the annual marching band competition. Because of its status as a host school, the Groton bands do not compete in the competition and will, instead, lead the parade with two exhibition performances.
"We've never hosted a marching festival, so we're keeping it as it was before in previous years," Johnson said.
For Waubay School, the change in venue means the Dragons marching band will compete in the Lake Region Marching Band Festival for the first time in 11 years.
An appearance at the Lake Region Marching Band Festival is a regular stop for many schools in the fall. The Aberdeen Roncalli combined middle and high school marching band has found success there and, last year, won the Band of Distinction award for combined bands.
There are separate divisions for middle and high school bands.
Carda said the Roncalli group traveled well to Waubay, but the hope is even more supporters will attend now that the venue is closer to Aberdeen.
For some schools, it will be a chance to showcase their bands after canceling appearances at the Gypsy Day parade this past weekend due to weather concerns.
The Simmons and Holgate Middle School marching band, which is formed for the parade, will be in Friday's festival. The Hoven School also decided to come to the festival after having to forgo an appearance in the Gypsy Day parade.
"I was frustrated and upset we missed the opportunity to be in the parade," Carda said. "It was a chance to march in your hometown, but, based on the information given, we had to stand by that decision."
She said she should have remembered the unpredictable nature of South Dakota weather. Johnson said he, too, was disappointed that Groton marching band was unable to be at the Aberdeen parade.
Last year's festival in Waubay had windy and cold conditions, but bands have dealt with adverse weather before. Carda said the main issue is rain, which damages woodwind instruments.
In the event of rain, which is possible for Friday, the event might be moved indoors to the Groton Arena.
"That's a big threat to marching bands, because most high school don't have rain gear," Johnson said. "One year in Waubay, it was pouring and they moved it to the gym. We improvised what we could on the gym floor and judges sat in the bleachers."
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Time: 10 a.m.
Date: Oct. 11
Place: Groton — The bands will march north on Main Street from Railroad Avenue to Ninth Avenue.
Additional information: Bands will be spaced four minutes apart for judging. A performance of the Northern State University Marching Wolves will take place following the parade at the Groton Area High School football field.
Bands performing: Groton Area High School, Groton Junior High School, Britton-Hecla High School, Warner High School, Great Plains Lutheran High School, Miller High School, Aberdeen Roncalli Junior/Senior High School, Ipswich School, Selby Area School, Leola School, Langford Area School, Castlewood School, Wilmot School, Waubay School, Watertown Middle School, Milbank Middle School and Holgate and Simmons Middle School combined.
Judges: Northern State University professors Boyd Perkins, Jessica Perkins and Terry Beckler