Their music is often associated with football halftime, but marching bands grabbed the spotlight for themselves Wednesday night. "Mission Drums," a drum and bugle corps competition for youths, stormed Haskell Memorial Stadium with drums and horns blaring.
Eight groups from around the United States and Canada competed. The Madison Scouts, an all-male corps from Madison, Wis., won the overall competition. Rockford, Ill.-based Phantom Regiment placed second while the Dubuque, Iowa-based Colts placed third. The Colts featured several members and instructors from Lawrence and east Kansas.
Most of the competing groups came from across the Midwest -- from Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa. Groups also came from Boston and Quebec, Canada.
Drum and bugle corps members get more than just musical competition from the summer-long experience, recent KU graduate and Colts instructor Chad Dempsey said.
"We rehearse all day " but, we don't focus on scores or how we do," he said. "It's an educational experience for lifelong skills."
The group members, all 15- to 21-year-olds, have been on the road performing since June 2. They will stay on the road until the Aug. 14 drum and bugle corps championships in Madison.
The groups are made up of a horns section, drum line and color guard. They are judged on overall performance, as well as more specific items like technical mastery of instruments. Event judge Jo Smith, who often travels with performers and judges many events like Mission Drums, said the goal of these events is not to foster competition but to help the young musicians and performers learn and feel more confident with their skills.
She can see musician improvements over the course of a summer of touring, she said. She looks for musicians who learn to work as a team.
"I'm looking to see if the kids are expressing music together," she said.
-- Erik Petersen's phone message number is 832-7222; his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.