Farmington Marching Invitational ready to step off

The Farmington Black Knight Marching Band hosts the 20th annual Farmington Marching Invitational on Sept. 16 at Haile Memorial Staduim. Seventeen bands from around the area will compete against each other for the top spot. 

Craig Vaughn, Farmington Press

For two decades, on the third Saturday of September, marching bands from all around descend upon Haile Memorial Stadium to test their strengths, their ideas, and their talent at the Farmington Marching Invitational.

This year, 17 bands will travel to Farmington High School on Sept. 16, to showcase their hard work over the last few months.

Elliot Naes, marching band director, said the invitational is a great place for marching bands to start the competition season.

“Band directors and their bands will not get critiqued on the finite details of their show,” Naes said. “It’s going to be more general – your ideas are good, or do you need to clarify your idea – is it clear to the audience and to the judges.”

An invitational like FMI provides critique needed to strengthen the band’s sound.

“For us, we have had this music for a few months,” Naes said. “We have spent a great deal of time with it, so we know what it is supposed to sound like. But when you have a seven minute show that someone will only hear one time, you better make sure it is really clear and obvious what is going on.”

Although 17 bands will be showing up for the 20th annual festival to compete, they will not be competing against the Black Knight Marching Band. As the host team, BKMB will perform only for the critique from the judges.

“We want to get some comments from the judges as well,” Naes said. “But for us, the invitational is just for exhibition. We will perform at the beginning of the festival and then the kids will change out of their uniforms and spend the rest of the day at their assigned jobs. Whether that is serving nachos, helping the audience in the stands or directing traffic...they will spend the rest of the day helping in some function.”

As busy as the festival will be, Naes is relying on many of the band parents, band boosters and anyone else willing to lend a helping hand.

“We will have a lot bands going in and out of here all day,” Naes said. “Saturday is kind of an all-hands-on-deck type of day. If have any relation to the band, we could use a helping hand.”

According to Naes, the festival will begin at 1 p.m. with the BKMB stepping off first. The last band of the day will begin around 6 p.m. and awards beginning around 6:45 p.m.

During the downtime between the last band and the awards ceremony, the audience will be treated to some special guests.

“While the judges are tallying up the totals, we will have some nice (performances) to fill the time,” Naes said. “We will have the school’s Knightline perform along with St. Paul’s Bucket Beat with Renee Kurtz as director.”

The following bands are also scheduled to appear: Woodland High School, Park Hills Central High School, New Madrid County Central High School, Cape Girardeau Central High School, DeSoto High School, Hillsboro High School, Windsor High School, Parkway North High School, Union High School, Perryville High School, North County High School, Pattonville High School, Wentzville Holt High School, Fox High School, Parkway Central High School, Seckman High School and Oakville High School.

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629  or at


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