Kansas University is hosting the 18th annual Heart of America Marching Festival on Oct. 17 at Memorial Stadium.
Twenty high school marching bands from Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas are slated to perform starting at 11:45 a.m. Lawrence High School will take the field at 12:45 p.m. Free State High School is scheduled to go on at 4:15 p.m.
The top 10 scoring bands move on to the finals, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and the awards ceremony will be at 9:45 p.m.
The Lawrence High Marching Lions had a roaring comeback at the Blue Valley Invitational Tournament a few Saturdays ago.
After the preliminary round, the band ranked second in its division and third overall. After their second, and final, performance, the LHS Lions were named Grand Champions. They also scored highest in the best music and best general effects categories, beating out other final bands from Des Moines, Iowa, and Blue Springs, Mo.
“There was all kinds of talk about having the heart of a lion and having lions’ pride here at LHS,” senior Travis Jacobsen said. “I think that really helped us band together and just come together for finals and that’s exactly what we did.”
This year, the band’s performance is “Caravan: A Journey Through the Sand.”
“It has an Egyptian theme to it,” junior Kelsey Schweer said. “It’s actually really addicting. I think it fits the band very well.”
They also have brand-new uniforms and use the new outdoor athletic stadium to practice.
“When we went out and played, it was like we were an entirely new band,” Jacobsen said.
However, band director Mike Jones said the big victory is a direct result of how hard the kids practice.
“The field in particular has been very, very nice to work on,” Jones said. “The new uniforms sure do help a lot. They look great. But it still comes down to work, hard work ethic.”
The Marching Lions walked onto the field that day at the competition and ended up hearing the sweet sounds of victory.
“It was just an amazing feeling to know that we were all out there together, working for the same goal and just putting all our pride out there and doing our best,” junior Ellen Bentley said.
Their next competition is Oct. 17 at the Kansas University Heart of America Marching Festival. If band enthusiasts thought the Lions looked good in September, this is month where it’s taken up a notch.
“We will not stop until we get to that highest level,” Jones said. “We won grand champions and that’s great, but we’re still not at the highest level that we’re going to be here in a few weeks.”
The band is on the same sheet of music.
“We know we’ve got stuff to improve on,” Bentley said. “We’re just going to try and keep getting better.”
Their last performance will be at the final home football game at LHS on Oct. 30.
Free State High School also competed at Blue Valley and placed third in the black division, for teams with fewer than 140 members.