FORT MILL — Like pumpkins, apple cider and the changing leaves, fall is heralded for many people by the sound of trumpets and the beating of drums on Saturday nights as high school marching bands showcase the efforts of weeks of sweaty summer practices.
At Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools, those competitions are often wrapped up with a celebration around half a dozen trophies. Saturday was no exception, as both bands celebrated big wins.
Nation Ford High School Marching Band competed Saturday at the Providence Cup at Providence High School in Charlotte. The band received top honors at the competition, winning the Grand Champion distinction. The band also took home awards for first place in its class, first place Music, first place Visual Performance, first place, Overall Effect, first place Percussion, and first place Color Guard.
“It was the best performance of the year, and that is always the goal,” Nation Ford Director Martin Dickey said.
Fort Mill High School Marching Band competed in class 5A at the Low Country Invitational at Wando High School. The band took home the Grand Champion Cup and finished first in its class. They also won awards for Best Percussion and Best Music.
“The students played very well,” said Fort Mill Band Director John Pruitt. “The focus this week was improving the playing and getting more confident and we can definitely tell a difference between last week and this week. That’s the goal. We want to see progress each week.”
Nation Ford band will compete at Western Carolina University Oct. 12. That competition will include 25 bands from six states, Dickey said, including several Bands of America national finalists.
“In comparison to a Bands of America regional, it’s probably the best thing out there. In the Carolinas, it’s probably the biggest competition,” Dickey said.
Fort Mill will have a full day of practice on Oct. 12 and return to competition on Oct. 19 at the Bands of America Super Regional in Winston-Salem, N.C. The long practice Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. will allow the band to make minor adjustments to its show and put “finishing touches” on it before the regional competition, Pruitt said.
Indian Land High School Marching Band did not compete on Oct. 5 but will compete on Oct. 12 at Butler High School.