WATERLOO — Despite overcast skies threatening rain Saturday at Waterloo Memorial Stadium and some occasional precipitation, the bands played on.

They also marched on and off the field during the Iowa High School Music Association’s State Marching Band Festival. That helped to turn the already-wet ground into a muddy, slippery mess. The field was wet from storms earlier that morning and Friday.

“It was a little muddy, but we made it,” said Danny Kleinheinz, co-director of the West High School band, which hosted this year’s festival for 17 Northeast Iowa bands. Some high school bands from the region performed at festivals in Cedar Rapids and Fort Dodge.

“We were really thankful for the excellent hosting from the Waterloo West guys,” said Kyle Engelhardt, co-director of the Cedar Falls High School band. He noted they adjusted the afternoon schedule with the hope of avoiding rain.

“Instead of marching in the rain, we only had to march in the mud,” he noted. “Nobody had to march in a downpour.”

East High School director Joelle Smith agreed the conditions were extreme. Throughout the band’s performance, she held her head in her hands, worried someone would fall and get hurt. “The worst-case scenario was one person lost a shoe,” she noted, and then just kept marching.

“That was an experience we will never, ever forget,” she said.

All three bands received high ratings. West and Cedar Falls each earned a Division I. East earned a Division II.

Division ratings from one to five awarded by judges at the state festival reflect the performance of individual bands, rather than how they compare to others.

Division I and II ratings indicate superior and excellent performances, respectively.

Other high school bands earning a Division I at the festival included Independence, Oelwein, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Crestwood, Nashua-Plainfield, Decorah, Hempstead and Dubuque Senior. High school bands receiving Division II ratings included Union, Denver, East Buchanan, North Fayette Valley, West Delaware and Western Dubuque.

West’s show was “Galaxy Suite,” including classical music with space-related themes by Richard Strauss, Gustav Holst, Claude Debussy and James Horner. Cedar Falls’ show, “Elevated,” has songs of Aaron Copland, Cirque du Soleil and John Zdechlik interspersed with recorded clips from various commencement addresses. The band will march at the halftime of two more home football games — Friday and Oct. 20.

“They did a fantastic job. I was so proud of them,” said Smith of East’s band, which has more than 70 members. “We were less than two points away from a (Division) I.”

East’s show is “Beatlemania,” featuring five Beatles songs. The band will perform during a final home football game Friday.

Area marching bands performing at other state festivals included Aplington-Parkersburg and Charles City high schools at Fort Dodge, where each earned a Division I. Performing in Cedar Rapids were Don Bosco High School, which received a Division II, and South Tama County High School, which received a Division III.

Don Bosco went on to perform at two competitions, as well. Its show “Only Half Dead” is based on music from the Tim Burton movie “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

At the Wilton Marching Invitational, it was first out of four 1A bands and fifth out of 14 overall. “We also received outstanding performance certificates at Wilton for hornline, color guard, drum major and marching execution,” said director Myron Mikita.

At the Muscatine Marching Invitational, the band received first place in its class and trophies for best hornline and color guard. “The kids actually improved with each performance from State to Muscatine,” said Mikita.

The band will perform at a final home football game Oct. 20. It also will march at the first of any post-season games a week later.


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