MHS Marching Band Invitational expected to draw over 5,000 visitors to Morton

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Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 10:49 am

On Saturday, September 15, the final day of the Morton Pumpkin Festival, Morton High School’s 13th annual marching band invitational will present 20 bands encompassing 2,325 student performers from around the state in competition.

Participating Illinois high school marching bands include Kewanee, Mt. Zion, Rockford, Olympia, University, Coal City, Pekin, Metamora, East Peoria, United Township, Macomb, Illinois Valley Central, Dunlap, Galesburg, Minooka, Canton, Bloomington, Normal and Washington. These bands will compete at the invitational, and Morton’s very own marching band will perform in exhibition just prior to the final awards presentation.

Students’ family and friends can make a full day of their visit to Morton, taking in the Pumpkin Festival experience with the Pumpkin Parade, arts and crafts, rides and assortment of pumpkin based foods before coming to the invitational. Given the collective number of band families plus students, the estimated draw to the village is 5,000 additional visitors on the final day of the Pumpkin Festival.

While the dollars spent at the Festival are an added bonus, the primary function of the invitational is to raise funds for the Morton High School Marching Band. The revenue from entry and concessions is critical in supporting costs of running the 178-student band, including show props, guard uniforms, underwriting of trips to competitions, hydration and instrument costs not budgeted by the school district.

“The Morton Marching Band Invitational serves a dual purpose for the student of the Morton Marching Band,” explains Patrick Mainieri, Director of Student Activities and Engagement 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 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, 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 four different classes on the artificial turf field at Carver Stadium. The turf is only four years 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 while performing. The vantage point from the 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 p.m. with an exhibition performance by Morton High School at 8:30 p.m., and final 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 Invitational is $7 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free for children five and under. 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 2018 show is titled, “Through the Eternal Spring” with original music by Craig Fitzpatrick, based on the music Bergersen and Tchaikovsky.

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 leading the 113 winds, 29 percussion and 32 color guard. The band is among the most successful in Central Illinois, boasting their 13th consecutive State of Illinois Class 2A Championship and the prestigious 2017 Sudler Shield Award for international recognition in the marching arts. The band 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, Mitch Jones, with assistance from Katrina Fitzpatrick (woodwinds), Craig Fitzpatrick (brass), Brian Spickelmire (pit), Bob Hornsby (battery) and Ronni Stalter (guard). See the band’s full schedule at, and follow Morton Bands on Instagram @mortonbands, on Facebook at Morton High School Band (Morton, IL) and on Snapchat at mortonbands.

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