When former Creston Superintendent Steve McDermott spearheaded the push for a turf football field for Creston High School, he had visions of hosting marching band contests on that new surface.
While the field was installed in 2018, a battle with cancer took McDermott before he could see his vision actualized.
“That’s what got it all started,” Activities Director Scott Driskell said. “We started moving toward it, but COVID hit and slowed our roll.”
Driskell met with band director Michael Peters last spring to figure out a plan to bring the marching band contest to life. “We promised this,” Driskell said. “We have a great stadium and a great opportunity here.”
While the original idea was a competition, Peters said they leaned into the educational side of the concept.
“We don’t need any more trophies,” he said. “What we need is more education. Can we make this something more educational where we are all just trying to make each other better?”
The exhibition provides the opportunity for bands to come perform and get scored by judges so they know what they need to improve on before they perform in competition.
Peters began reaching out to other high school bands. While there were only three marching bands planned for this year - Creston, Harlan and Lenox - Driskell said they just needed to get it going to build momentum.
While the plan was for the three bands to perform on the football field for judges to evaluate and coach as a part of Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Days, mother nature had other plans.
“Only I could try to host the first marching band contest in Creston during a drought and have a rain-out,” Peters joked. “The forecast kept changing hourly.”
Lenox pulled out of the exhibition due to weather, but Creston and Harlan went to plan B - performing at a smaller capacity in the high school gymnasium.
“The two bands that did stay got some great comments from the judges,” Peters said. “They were able to work with the kids hands-on and show them what they could improve on.”
The exhibition featured percussion, visual, music and guard judges to provide insight to the students. “No one is competing; everyone is learning,” Peters said. “The kids, they liked it, they liked getting feedback, but they wanted to get outside and march.” He said the judges have already said they want to come back next year.
Creston’s show is called Adrenaline. “It’s about the adrenaline rush you get from performing,” Peters said. “The whole thing is based off a heartbeat.”
The Creston marching band will be performing during pregame at this week’s homecoming game. After that, they’re busy on the road with the Southwest Iowa Band Jamboree Oct. 1 in Clarinda; Valleyfest Oct. 8 in West Des Moines and the IHSMA State Marching Band Contest Oct. 15 at Glenwood High School.
“I’d like to see this really become a much bigger event that really highlights area and statewide marching bands, and something that honors the vision of hosting the event and showing off Creston and the community,” Driskell said. “Balloon Days provides so much for our community, this would be a great addition.”