Richmond Stadium to host 17th Annual Fort Madison classic starting at noon
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – As with most events in 2020, the pandemic threw a wicked curveball, but this Saturday marching band fanatics can return to Richmond Stadium for the 17th Annual Fort Madison Marching Band Classic.
The event starts at noon with gates opening at 11 a.m. Nine schools will be represented including Wapello, Central Lee, Washington, Mt. Vernon, Keokuk, Centerville, Ottumwa, Clinton, and Davenport Central.
Fort Madison High School will be performing in an exhibition role as a warmup for the Mt. Pleasant Marching Band competition later that evening. The event is the first for the schools in the fall competition season.
Fort Madison Band Director David Zaccari said the Bloodhound Marching Band is anxious to get back in front of fans in a competition mode.
“Halftime of the football game is nice and we have a good following there, but it’s just not the same as competitions,” Zaccari said.
Last year the pandemic structure allowed the district to put together a halftime show at football games, but the only competition model was a virtual recorded competition at the state level.
He said the students have worked hard even in the midst of all the pandemic impacts on health and school schedules, to stay focused on their performances.
“The kids have been here right with me when they were able and right on the ball,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot. The transition to a new director, and then the pandemic and being isolated from each other from March through August.
“We didn’t get a great chance to bond and get that first full year. There just wasn’t a lot of carrots for them to work toward, but they stayed focused.”
Zaccari is in his third year in the district after replacing Tracy Madsen, who will be bringing the Central Lee squad to Fort Madison.
Zaccari said it takes time for transitions to take place with new leadership.
“The kids have developed very well. Any veteran instructor will tell you it takes anywhere from four to six years to get roots into a program.”
But he said the pandemic has made that more challenging, but also has helped him with a different approach.
“I used to be the guy that would get bent outta shape when kids missed rehearsal,” he said. “I’ve learned to be more relaxed and patient with it. We’re still in the pandemic and we have had kids come down with it and we have to respect that.”
But he said there is a vibe in rehearsals now and he can tell the kids are excited to get back in front of fans and compete.
“We’re all super excited for this and people will see a great show all day. There is energy in the band and they are ready for this.”
The Fort Madison Middle School under the direction of Lisa Knipe will open with a short program following the national anthem. Then the competition will begin starting with the smaller schools. Schools are classified by school size and not by band size.