QUINCY -- Saturday was a high-stakes day for members of a dozen high school bands from Iowa, Missouri and elsewhere in Illinois who came to Quincy to compete in the 24th Annual Octoberfest Invitational Parade and Field Competition.
One of the bands competing was the Illini West High School Marching Chargers Band, led by llini West High School seniors Logan Little and Liliana Solano. Morgan Broadwell and Paige Gutting were co-captains of the band's flag corps.
"Today is kind of stressful, to be honest, because there are so many other bands here that you don't ever know where you are going to end up in the standings," Gutting said. "Today is like our state, because this is what we practice for all year -round and what we practice for in the summers." The festival includes a parade that began at 33rd and Maine streets and continued down Maine to Quincy Junior High School. The bands then later met at Flinn Stadium to compete in the field competition.
"It can be exhausting at some times, but it is a really great experience marching in front of all the beautiful houses and to have the crowds getting all excited," Little said. "It is a really fun time, but it is definitely the longest day of your life when you are in band."
The Marching Chargers performed "Firework," which was originally released in 2010 by pop singer Katy Perry as their parade song.
Different members of the band said the song has become somewhat of a tradition for the consolidated Hancock County high school that was formed in 2007 from Carthage, Dallas City and La Harpe high schools. The song was chosen for its reminder that despite differences, different backgrounds, each person within the band and the school has his or her own unique gifts and beauty.
"We really like the song, we really like marching to it, and so we really get in to it," Little said.
The precision of the band's flag corps and the band's performance of the song earned them praise from the spectators who lined the streets.
Solano said, "(Playing here) definitely puts a little bit more pressure on us because we know that it is not just people from our town watching us, but also people from other towns are looking at us. They may be judging us, or critiquing us, because they may be band parents, members of other bands, or people who used to play in a band. So we want to give them a good show, and it is really nice when we are able to show them what we can do."
The band's field show, titled "Life on Top," features music from Imagine Dragons and Billy Joel.
Results from the parade and field show competitions were not available.
Other bands who competed in Saturday's event from Illinois were: Ashland-Chanderville Central High School, Auburn High School, Hamilton High School, Warsaw High School, Liberty High School and Rushville-Industry High School. Quincy High School's marching band as well as the Quincy Junior High School Concert band participated in the parade and field show but did not compete.
Representing Missouri schools were bands from Clark County High School, Elsberry High School, Troy Buchanan High School and the Troy Buchanan Ninth Grade Center.
Fort Madison High School's marching band was the lone band from Iowa.
For the four seniors from Illini-West, the competition was bittersweet.
"It has been a great four years coming to Quincy," Solano said. "It is really sad that we are not going to be able to march again in these uniforms, but this is a really fun event to compete in here and to be a part of such a big event. It is really nice to watch all of the bands."