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Drum and bugle corps march into Farmington

Color guard, brass, and percussion members of Gold from San Diego, Calif., perform July 31, 2018, at Tiger Stadium in Farmington. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 5
Members of the Vanduard Cadets from Santa Clara, Calif., won the March On! competition on July 31, 2018, in Farmington. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 5
Xylophone players with River City Rhythm celebrate the end of a song at the March On! competition in Farmington. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 5
A judge watches the xylophone players with Colt Cadets from Dubuque, Iowa, during competition July 31, 2018, at Tiger Stadium in Farmington. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 5
River City Rhythm from Anoka, Minn., performs in unison on July 31, 2018, in Farmington. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 5

FARMINGTON—Eight drum and bugle corps from Minnesota, California, Louisiana, and Iowa performed during the March On! competition held Tuesday, July 31, at Tiger Stadium.

"The audience really appreciated the performances," said Jim Tarbox, who served as the announcer for the event. "A lot of people who came are big fans of drum and bugle corps."

The groups who performed were seeded by judges prior to the competition, with the best drum and bugle corps placed later in the evening.

"They used to draw lots to see when you went on," Tarbox said, "but then you might have a really good corps perform early and then a not-so-good corps come after them. It wasn't fair to the group who followed the better corps."

Each drum and bugle corps performs for 10 minutes, but they require so much equipment that it takes several minutes for each group to prepare. Members haul bass drums, kettle drums, xylophones, gongs, background props, and color guard flags, rifles, and swords onto the field before each performance.

As each group plays a selection of songs, corps members march around the field, moving with the music as the color guard members spin flags and rifles, often tossing them high into the air. The result is a pageantry of motion and sound.

Judges move around the field as each group plays. They are looking for specific categories of performance including general effect, visual proficiency, visual analysis, color guard movements, brass music, and percussion music.

Judges are trained to look for excellence in each category and to judge each corps based on the current performance and not on prior reputation.

"Each corps gets points for how well they do," Tarbox said. "The judges look at how well the music fits with the movements. A lot of them try to incorporate a narration now, to tell a story with their music."

The season for drum and bugle corps runs from mid-June to mid-August. Performers generally travel in team busses. When they arrive in each town, they "camp out on the gym floor, get up at 7 o'clock, eat breakfast, and rehearse all day to put on a ten-minute show," said Tarbox. "Then they do it all over again in the next town."

Five of the drum and bugle corps competing in Farmington are in the Open Class. Results for those were: Vanguard Cadets from Santa Clara, Calif., 77.250 points; Gold from San Diego, Calif., 71.850 points; Louisiana Stars from Lafayette, La., 68.500 points; River City Rhythm from Anoka, Minn., 65.550 points; and Colt Cadets from Dubuque, Iowa, 60.850 points.

River City Rhythm has students from Lakeville, Eastview, Rosemount and the Twin Cities.

The final competition for the season will be the Drum Corps International World Championships on Aug. 6 in Indianapolis.

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

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