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Band festival takes place in MG Veterans Stadium

cheyenne martin

Approximately 28 bands from Georgia, Alabama and Florida gathered at Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the Southeastern States Marching Band Festival.

The festival is a fund raiser for the Charles Henderson Band Foundation and Troy State University's Sound of the South marching band helps them host it every year. This year, former Charles Henderson High School Blue Machine director Michael Thomas returned as a judge.

"It's been wonderful," Teresa Sims said. "We've learned a lot."

Sims, who co-chaired the festival with her husband, said having the festival in the new stadium presented new challenges.

"Everybody is just used to doing it the way we used to and we've had to make a few changes," she said. "They're good changes, but they're going to take getting used to."

She said the cloudy skies and sprinkles of rain Saturday morning had them worried, but it didn't dampen their hopes.

"We ordered good weather, it just came a little late," she said.

The festival was the biggest in 16 years and Sims said many people worked hard to put it together and keep it running smoothly.

"We really appreciate the hard work of all the band parents, students and Troy State students," she said. "They have all been so helpful."

The Blue Machine marching band performed its "Sound of the Seventies" show in exhibition. Even though their scores didn't count in the competition, the judges still evaluated their performance to help prepare them for an upcoming marching band competition.

Kimberly Sikes and Laura Butler, who play percussion, said the festival is a good way for the band to earn money and practice their field show.

"This is by far the best fundraiser for the band foundation," Butler said. "It isn't boring like most of the ones we do."

All the band students, Charles Henderson Middle School band students included, work all day taking tickets and hosting the out-of-town bands.

"It's a lot of fun and you get to meet a lot of new people," Sikes said. "And it prepared middle school students for high school."

And exhibition or not, they were nervous playing in front of judges and an audience who was there to watch the band and not the game. The two girls thought the band played well, but admitted they could use a little work on the last song.

"That was kind of blah," Sikes said. "But we did just add that one."

They said the judges' comments will help them smooth out the rough spots.

Cutlines:

Marching pic 1: Casey East twirls her umbrella to the Blue Machine's rendition of "I Can See Clearly Now." The band performed in exhibition during the Southeastern States Marching Band Festival at Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Marching pic 2: Percussionists in the Blue Machine marching band, from left, Maggie Uphaus, Laura Butler and Kimberly Sikes mark time while the marching band takes the field for the Southeastern States Marching Band Festival at Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium Saturday night.