The stars were all over the field Saturday night and the fans were rooting for everyone.
All four Warren County School District marching bands were among the 13 participants at the Northern Exposure Tournament of Bands competition hosted by Youngsville High School at War Memorial Field.
The hosts came away with first place hardware, earning top honors for the Group 2 Open class with a score of 84.05.
That was a significant improvement over the event Youngsville competed in two weeks ago. "We went up almost nine points," Director Cindy Scheid said. "They worked really hard. They work really hard all the time."
"It's definitely worth it," Youngsville senior color guard member Samantha Jesson said.
"We had an amazing performance," Youngsville drum major Angela Renninger said. "We kicked butt. Everything clicked."
"We came off the field smiling and crying," Youngsville color guard section leader Karlie Harkins said. "We knew in our hearts that we performed our hardest out there."
While the Eisenhower and Youngsville bands are seasoned competition veterans, this is the first season of competitions for both Sheffield and Warren.
"This is Sheffield's first field show in three years," Director Sarah Korchak said. "We had our best performance yet this season, so we are very proud."
"It's a really neat experience," Sheffield alto sax player Tessa Korchak said. "It was one of our best performances yet. It came together really well."
"This was our first time in competition in 14 years," Warren drum major and quints player Molly Berardi said. "
While the bands do the same things at a competition that they do at football games, there is no comparison between the two events for the performers.
The performers are proud to support their schools and their football teams, but the competitions are their times to shine.
"Playing here there's a lot more excitement," Sheffield bass drummer James Oswalt said. "You have an adrenaline rush. You are so excited because there are people here who just come to see us play."
"At a band competition, the crowd is there for you and just you," Youngsville senior trumpet player Austin Miller said. "When we're out here, it's like we're rock stars."
"At competitions, the crowd interacts with us," Eisenhower drum major Jessalyn Peterson said. "At football games, the crowd just sits there."
"It feels good that we're playing for people who are paying attention to us rather than waiting for the football game to start," Warren drum major and trumpet player Eric Davis said. "Everybody knew that today actually counted. It sounded a million times better than usual."
"You have people from all over and they're all there pulling for you. In the stands they're all yelling and screaming for you," Warren Director Marcia White said. "It's not one side against the other, it's everybody for perfection."
One of the very tangible differences between competition and halftime is the presence of others on the field. There were eight judges at Saturday's competition four in the booth, one on the sidelines and three that might or might not roam among the performers.
"It was a new experience having judges on the field with us," Berardi said.
Tournament of Bands Director Jeffery Dent was the individual music judge on the field. He moved around, evaluating individual musicians. "I'm judging what is it they're doing and how well they're doing it."
The judges speak into iPods, recording their thoughts and the sounds around them. Their scoring goes to the press box immediately and the feedback can be accessed immediately following performances given the right technology. Their critiques are intended not just to justify their scoring, but to help the director and musicians improve.
"Everything we do is education based," Dent said. "It's not about how to win a show, it's how to get better."
Sheffield participated in the festival class an entry level, exhibition class and received a score of silver.
Warren competed in the A class, for less experienced bands focused more on education and development, and took third place in Group 2 with 78.5 points, falling short of second by five hundredths of a point.
Eisenhower, competing in the open division, missed out on first place by 1.2 points, finishing in second in Group 1 with 77.4 points. "It was a very good time a good result," Peterson said. "I think it went really well.
Youngsville scored 84.05 points to win Group 2 Open.
After hearing the other results, Youngsville knew they had won. Still, they had to "maintain composure" until the official announcement, Miller said.
Then? "I just lost it," he said. "That feeling that you're first place there's nothing like it."
"It feels awesome," Jesson said. "I can't even describe it."
It was a satisfying win for the director, too.
"When the music and the choreography clicks, it's an aesthetic high," Scheid said. "Awesome."