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Chuck Brooks: March, 2, 3, 4 ... up to 29!

Run, don't walk, if you're reading this on Saturday, Sept. 15, before 5 in the afternoon because, yes, once again, it's time for the annual Rosemount High School Marching Band Festival! Every year for this weekend's edition, I talk about this event primarily because I know of it firsthand. I've been emceeing this event since its inception. And I'm pumped for it again.

Twenty-nine years! Who'd a-thunk it? Perhaps the directors from 1989 believed this event would take on a life of its own. I never expected to be the emcee for 29 years, but I am extremely grateful each year they've kept me around. Word has it, there are a few returning fans from participating schools who attend each year who sort of enjoy me, too. Huh.Who'd a-thunk it?

Over 29 years, the show has changed a bit, mostly in the time of day it occurs. For the longest time, we did an afternoon show. This was primarily because the band program was up against another show in the evening, and multiple bands wanted to participate in both.

At one point, RHS was able to grab a date when it was competing with no other show, and that's when it went to a night event. Under the lights, the show is pretty darn cool. Seeing is believing!

Band students begin working on their field shows mid-summer. I am fully aware of how hard our students have worked over the years, and based on watching other schools, I know they have the same level of expectation for their programs. So, being able to be a part of something where the kids are totally invested is quite an honor.

For the love of music

These students love music, and they believe in the concept of team. If you've never been to a show or seen a marching band in action, you'd be pulled in after one performance. By the time these schools participate in our show, they've likely attended at least one other show on a previous weekend. With each show they receive judge critiques, and they work to improve on specific areas for their next show appearance.

In the early years of our festival, I utilized the folks who would choose to watch the show from the hill by the scoreboard, outside the stadium. I always used these folks to my advantage. Mostly, for good-natured humor. I'd talk about them being too cheap to buy tickets, but I'd always tell the folks in the bleachers to show them some love anyhow and wave to the "nice people on the hill." It provided harmless laughs and the people waved back; the hill has grown thick with foliage, so it no longer provides me material.

There's dead time I need to fill for the sake of the audience. Usually, there's down time between bands picking up and leaving the field while the next band enters the field for the next performance. This is when I pull a rabbit out of my hat to keep the troops entertained.

In recent years, I've used the band members who are done performing and sitting on the opposite side of the stadium. I ask them to form words or objects by lying down on the hill and using their bodies. It requires teamwork, and it's a blast. The crowd loves it. I love it. And most importantly to me, the kids love it.

Family affair

Besides great music and visual components, there's the food that is being sold all day from the concessions stand area. Many band parents volunteer their time for the day, and if they're not parking cars and helping move instruments or selling tickets, they're in the concessions booth while others are outside it grilling brats and dogs. The band is a family affair, that's for sure. I'm happy they keep me in the family each and every year. I may just be that crazy uncle every family has!

Two years we were pushed inside due to rain. I HATE it inside as does everyone else. It becomes a stationary show. NO movement to speak of. The judging is different.

One year, I had a sinus headache going into the night, but when we moved inside, the volume of the music didn't do a thing for my headache. I was in a world of hurt. Frankly, I couldn't wait for it to end that year because, as you might guess, I was simply miserable.

This year, I've spoken with Mother Nature and plan to have her over for dinner just to buy favor with her so she blesses us with sunshine that day. If you're so inclined, invite her over to your place too! If you come, stop by the front of the booth, pop your head in the window and say "HI!"

My goal is twofold: one, to provide the audience with a good time, and two, to provide the kids with a memory they'll have forever. Hope to see you all there!

Next week? Something totally different. Truly. Guess you'll have to come back and see. Ha!

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