Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor darkness of night shall keep the music from being played, as 15 high school bands from three states proved Saturday night.
Liberty High School played host to 14 bands from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia at the 11th annual Marching Band Extravaganza in a steady downpour -- creating a muddy, slippery field for the musicians, flag bearers and baton twirlers.
All five Carroll County high schools participated in the tournament, though Liberty, as host, performed only in exhibition at the end.
Of the four Carroll bands in competition, the South Carroll Cavaliers, a Group III band, received the highest score, 83.4. The band placed third out of five bands in the division and took the best percussion award.
The North Carroll Panthers placed fifth in Group III with a score of 72.8. The Francis Scott Key Eagles took a second-place finish out of five bands in Group I, the smallest-sized group of bands. The 73.2 score also earned the Eagles the best band front award.
The Westminster Owls marched away with first place, as well as best band front, music, drum major and percussion because it was the only band in Group IV after Linganore dropped out due to the inclement weather. The Owls scored 77.3.
The first 10 bands performed with rain coming down until midway through the Group III show, when the clouds finally exhausted themselves. But the remaining five bands had to contend with an increasingly muddy field that caused a few minor slips during the evening.
"The rain just makes the field muddy and somewhat treacherous, but everything goes on as planned," said Bryan Eber, Liberty's band director.
But the rain does make a difference to the judges, who walk around the field as the bands play, commenting on the music, the flag bearers, overall performance, maneuvers and showmanship.
"We do take into consideration the rain, and we evaluate the field and weather conditions," said Randy Smith, chief judge. "If we see something we know they can accomplish, then we give them the benefit of the doubt."
The other bands, their scores and awards:
* Group I (35 or fewer musicians): Northern Garrett, first place with 76.15, best music and percussion; Berkeley Springs, W.Va., third with 72.05, best drum major; Biglerville, Pa., fourth place with 71; Bishop McDevitt, Pa., fifth place with 70.
* Group II (36 to 55 musicians): Southern Garrett, first place, 78.55, best band front, music and percussion; Greencastle Antrim, Pa., sec ond place with 77.5, best drum major; Brunswick, third place with 72.3.
* Group III (56 to 80 musicians): Lebanon, Pa., first place with 85.35, best music, drum major and overall band; Bermudian Springs, Pa., second place with 83.95, best band front; Hedgesville, W.Va., fourth place with 78.8.