Twenty schools in the tri-state area come together to compete in a battle of the bands

Starfest competition was larger this year than ever before

By Jamie Perez |

Published 09/24 2016 04:24PM

Updated 09/24 2016 04:24PM

After hundreds of hours of practice, waking up at 7 a.m. every day, and perfecting synchronized routines, Starfest took over the stadium at Morningside College all day Saturday.

Starfest is one of the largest marching band competitions in the tri-state area, this year being the largest with more than 20 schools competing. "

Thee musical directors say seeing their bands step up to the plate after hours of hard work makes them proud.

"We're continually amazed by how many hours the kids put in beginning well before the school year's over. To do it competitively, to do it successfully, to memorize the music, the hundreds and hundreds of drill counts... it's hours," says Ron Staory, Musical Director at Brookings High School.  

"The kids have been preparing for almost two months now, and so for them to be able to showcase their talents and their hard work, for the parents to be able to see the results of the students as well as for us to bring the entire show, the props, it's an exciting day for everybody," says Lisa Niebuhr, Development Director at Gehlan Catholic High School. 

But Starfest wasn't necessarily just about the competition. It was more about camaraderie shared amongst the band members.

"When you're performing with the people that have become your family over the past four years, it's surreal," says Josie Dokken, front ensemble member at Brookings High School. 

Getting to perform months of hard work in front of an audience doesn't come easy to them, even those who've been doing this a while.

"When I get onto the field, I am freaking out, I am scared. I'm like 'Oh, what if I mess up in the middle of a performance', but once I get out there, once I start marching, then all my fears disappear, it's just me, the band and the music," Atze Atsma, head trombone player for Ghelan Catholic High School. 

But the bands brought everything they had to the field and gave the crowd a colorful, synchronized show, and the pride came from not only band members...

"It's a moment to be proud of that you've worked so hard to get there," says Gabby Plagge, flute player for Ghelan Catholic High School.

But from their mentors too.

"Today, once again, they did a magnificent job, we're very proud of them," says Niebuhr.

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