MORTON, IL – On Saturday, Sept. 17, the final day of the Morton Pumpkin Festival, Morton High School’s 11th annual marching band invitational will present 12 bands encompassing 1,417 student performers from around the state in competition.

Illinois high school bands; East Peoria Community, Normal Community, Metamora Township, Rock Island High, Macomb Senior High, Victor J. Andrew High, Danville High, Rockford High, Mt. Zion and Glenwood High will compete at the invitational, with the Morton High School Marching Band performing in exhibition just prior to the awards presentation.

Students’ families and friends can make a full day of their visit to Morton, taking in arts and crafts, the Pumpkin Parade, rides and pumpkin based treats before coming to the invitational. Given the collective number of band families plus students, the approximated draw to the village is 3,500 additional visitors on the final day of the Pumpkin Festival.

The dollars spent at the Festival are a bonus, while the primary function of the Invitational is to raise funds for the Morton High School Marching Band. This competition is currently the only fundraiser for the band. The revenue from entry and concessions is critical in supporting costs of running the 164-student band, including show props, guard uniforms, underwriting of trips, hydration and instrument costs not budgeted for by the school district.

“The Morton Marching Band Invitational serves a dual purpose for the students of the Morton Marching Band,” explains Patrick Manieri, Assistant Director of Bands and Fine Arts Coordinator for Morton School District. “First, students are active participants in the operations of a large event impacting thousands of performers and audience members. The football field is transformed into a performance venue and our students do an incredible job supporting and catering to the needs of the bands they are working with.

Some students also have the opportunity to work directly with parent volunteers, so they are able to best understand the benefits of volunteerism through their band program. The second benefit for our students centers around their understanding that band students, no matter where they are from, are much like themselves - hardworking, motivated, and success driven individuals. Our students often talk about the observations they make during their time around the invitational and communicate that they experience, with the other groups, the same pride they feel here at Morton.”

Bands will compete in three different classes on the artificial turf field at Carver Stadium. The turf is only a year old and is critical to band directors’ decisions of whether or not to enter competitions. Previously, the natural grass field’s unevenness presented complications for moving large show props on and off the field, while the dips and ruts were hazardous to musicians who do not look down when performing.

The vantage point from the new bleachers is excellent for audiences as seeing performances from higher up allows for the necessary views to see the carefully orchestrated drill formations. The height also makes judging easier and more accurate.

Bands will begin competition at 3:00 p.m. with an exhibition by Morton High School at 6:45 p.m. and awards following. Awards will be given within each class for best music, visual, general effects, auxiliary, percussion and winds. A Grand Champion across all classes will be named as well. Admission to the band invitational is $7 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free for children under 5 years of age. Concessions will be available throughout the event and handicapped seating is available in the bleachers of the home stands.

The Morton High School Marching Band 2016 show is entitled “Untamed.” Craig Fitzpatrick, a Morton resident, arranges the competitive show music and designs the drill for the students.

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About Morton Marching Band

Morton Marching Band has more than doubled in size over the last ten years and is comprised of four drum majors, 69 woodwinds, 49 brass, 13 battery and 10 front ensemble musicians as well as an auxiliary color guard of 19. The band is among the most successful in Central Illinois and also competes on the national level at Bands of America Super Regional and Grand National competitions. They are led by Director of Bands, Jeff Neavor and Assistant Director of Bands, Patrick Mainieri. See the band’s full schedule at mortonbands.org, and follow Morton Bands on Instagram @MortonBands, Facebook at Morton High School Band (Morton, IL) and Snapchat at mortonbands.