Marching Festival brings people, music and pageantry to Mineola

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Thousands of visitors poured into Mineola on Oct. 8 to witness a competition as fierce as any East Texas football rivalry. Instead of blocking and tackling, the keys to success were precision, musical excellence and showmanship.

The third annual Mineola Marching Festival attracted 30 marching bands from around the area to a daylong celebration of musical pageantry. After the last note was hit and the final step was taken, the Mighty Canton Band from Canton High School was judged the festival’s best. Robert E. Lee High School took second place, and Farmersville placed third. Host Mineola’s “Swarm of Music” performed an entertaining exhibition show themed “Total Eclipse” to the delight of a near capacity crowd.

Mineola band director Chris Brannon characterized the festival this way: “Great day –

one little weather delay – huge crowd, awesome bands, a lot of great performances. Very excited about the turnout and bringing people into Mineola.”

The day’s preliminary competition started at 9 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. After a performance by the Tyler Junior College Apache Band, eight finalists were announced.

Each performance in the final round was a unique expression of sound and color, movement and imagination – a balance of precise choreography, complex musical compositions, crisp uniforms, swirling banners and, in some cases, evocative storytelling. All those elements supported an overarching theme.

The music itself ranged from classical compositions to traditional marches to contemporary pieces. Sometimes bands blended separate melodies as they seamlessly transitioned from the delicate notes of flutes and xylophones to the crashing crescendos of brass and drums. The elaborate productions wove elements of theater and drama into traditional marching.

“Each show’s different; I think it’s very entertaining. Those kids put a lot of effort into it. I don’t think people realize how much,” Brannon said.

Brannon estimated that 90 Mineola students and over 100 parents were involved in some capacity with putting on this year’s festival, which he called “a lot of work over several months.

“It’s a big deal but very much worth it.”

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