100719battleofbands

The Camden High School Big Blue Machine marching band performs during Saturday’s 44th annual Battle of the Bands in Edenton.

EDENTON — Local high school marching bands took home awards from this year’s Peanut Festival Battle of the Bands competition. For many parents of students in the John A. Holmes High School Marching Aces, Saturday began early.

To smoothly host the 44th annual Peanut Festival’s Battle of the Bands later that evening, band parents and volunteers arrived at the school around 5 a.m. to begin setting up. Later in the day, buses, trailers and U-hauls carrying 12 marching bands and their equipment started to fill the school’s parking lot.

During the day, the bands practiced their routines in anticipation of performing for several judges and an audience of more than 700 people.

When it was time for awards to be presented, judges awarded Band of the Day to Smithfield-Selma High School. The Smithfield marching band won two of the top prizes, having also received the Fred Gebhardt Award. This award is named for Fred Gebhardt, a longtime drill designer and instructor for the Marching Aces, and is presented to the band that has the top marching and visual performance. Band of the Day is awarded for achieving the highest overall score.

Hampton High School, the only band representing Virginia, received the Otis Strother Award, which is presented in honor of Otis Strother.

“Strother was an instrumental music educator in the Edenton-Chowan Schools for 20 years and a founder of the Peanut Festival,” Aces Band Director Lynn Dale has said previously. “This award is presented to the band that has displayed professionalism, spirit and cooperation throughout the day.”

Kip Vinson, this year’s festival organizer, was pleased with the day’s competition and said the event went well.

“Other band directors have been happy with what we’re doing,” he said. “We had so many good bands this year.”

Vinson also said that next spring festival organizers hope to contact more Virginia-based bands so they can add the Edenton festival to their fall schedule. This year’s festival also sold out of its allotment of Leon Nixon’s Catering barbecue and fried chicken dinners, he said.

Many bands’ performances Saturday focused on technology as a theme. For example, Camden County High School Big Blue Machine’s performance was entitled, “Talk to Me.” That performance addressed how people are obsessed with their smartphones, and looked at how smartphones have evolved from Morse code to small, personal handheld devices.

Currituck County High School’s performance looked at things from a man-against-machines angle.

Roanoke Rapids High School focused its performance on “Words,” using music to convey how words affect people.

Pasquotank County High School’s performance was a modern take on “Alice in Wonderland,” complete with members of the color guard dressing as Alice, the White Rabbit or the Red Queen’s guards. The routine included lines from the 1951 Disney animated film and from Alan Rickman’s caterpillar in the 2010 version, “Alice, at last”.

Smithfield-Selma, which was the largest band participating in last year’s festival, swept the Class AAAA division competition. The following includes all awards presented, by school category.

Class A

Cape Hatteras Secondary School — 2nd place, color guard; 2nd place, visual; 2nd place, general effect; 1st place, music; 2nd place, overall.

Gates County High School — 1st place, drum major; 1st place, color guard; 3rd place, percussion; 3rd place, visual; 3rd place, general effect; 3rd place, music.

Manteo High School — 2nd place, drum major; 1st place, percussion; 3rd place, overall.

Perquimans High School — 3rd place, drum major; 3rd place, color guard; 2nd place, percussion; 1st place, visual; 1st place, general effect; 2nd place, music; 1st place, overall.

Class AA

Riverside (Williamston) — 1st place, percussion; 3rd place, visual; 3rd place, music.

Roanoke Rapids — 1st place, drum major; 2nd place, color guard; 2nd place, percussion; 1st place, drum major; 1st place, general effect; 1st place, music; 1st place, overall.

Southwest Edgecombe (Pinetops) — 2nd place, drum major; 1st place, color guard; 2nd place, drum major; 2nd place, visual; 3rd place, general effect; 3rd place, overall.

Pasquotank County — 3rd place, drum major; 3rd place, color guard; 3rd place, percussion; 1st place, visual; 2nd place, general effect; 2nd place, music; 2nd place, overall.

Class AAA

Hampton — 1st place, drum major; 3rd place, color guard; 1st place, percussion; 3rd place, visual; 3rd place, general effect; 3rd place, music; 3rd place, overall; Otis Strother Award.

Camden — 2nd place, drum major; 1st place, color guard; 2nd place, percussion; 1st place, visual; 1st place, general effect; 1st place, music; 1st place, overall.

Currituck — 3rd place, drum major; 2nd place, color guard; 3rd place, percussion; 2nd place, visual; 2nd place, general effect; 2nd place, music; 2nd place, overall.

Class AAAA

Smithfield-Selma — 1st place, drum major; 1st place, color guard; 1st, percussion; 1st place, visual; 1st place, general effect; 1st place, music; 1st place, overall; Fred Gebhardt Award, Band of the Day Award.

Proceeds from the Peanut Festival benefit the Edenton-Chowan Schools band programs, and the money is split between Chowan Middle and John A. Holmes. The money is used to help bands travel to competitions, to buy new equipment, among other needs.