The big finale

The sound of music and the bright colors of many uniforms filled Dodger Stadium Saturday as 20 teams from the region competed for a Division 1 rating in the Iowa High School Marching Association State Marching Band Contest.

The All-American Dodger Marching Band from Fort Dodge High School made it.

Director of Bands Al Paulson watched his band members perform their routine.

“That was awesome,” he said. “I could not be prouder of them.”

Drum Major Ayenna Cagaanan was pretty sure her band would make the Division 1 rating.

“We did a solid one,” she said. “We wanted a high Division 1.”

Drummer Alex Jackson was pretty confident too.

“It felt good,” he said. “We were very focused.”

Shelby Quade, a senior at Manson Northwest Webster, was going onto the field for the last time with her bandmates.

“It’s weird,” she said. “I”m excited, but it’s weird that this is the last time I’m with them.”

One thing she won’t miss is the evening chill.

“I’m glad I don’t have to be out in the cold,” she said.

She said that the band has been working on incorporating the feedback they got at the North Central Iowa Marching Band Invitational in Fort Dodge on Sept. 28.

“We’ve worked on marching together and cleaning up all the small things,” she said.

From a farm family, there was one thing missing for Quade – her parents.

“Dad’s in the field, Mom is in the store,” she said.

One of the big lessons she will be taking with her after her high school career is the sense of common ground with other marching musicians.

“We’re all just one big marching band family,” she said.

Megan Benz, the Manson Northwest Webster band director, said her group was ready to take the field.

She said they’ve been working hard to perfect their performance and include the tips from the invitational.

“It’s good for the kids to hear from an outsider,” she said.

She said that when watching her students perform, she’s even more critical than the judges.

Once it starts though, she has a difficult time not marching along from the sideline.

“I have to stop myself,” she said.

In addition to the band directors, each group of students gets critical support from parents and other volunteers.

Alison McElroy, of Algona, has a very specific job for the Scarlet Regiment Marching Band.

“I’m a plumage mom,” she said.

She’s responsible for handing out – and gathering back up – the feather plumes that go on top of their hats.

It’s an art.

“The last person did train me,” she said. “They can get bent if you put them in backwards.”

She also has to make sure they get the right set.

“We have rain plumes and sunny-day plumes,” she said.

He daughter, Rileigh McElroy, does not like the plastic plumes for the monsoon season.

“I’m not a fan,” she said. “They have a scent.”

The real feather plumes for sunny days?

“These are classy,” she said.

The band moms do many other things. McElroy said she pins and hems the uniform pants every year too.

Maddie Roach, one of the band’s drum majors, relies on her for another chore.

“Without band moms, nobody would tape our gloves to our wrist,” she said.