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Banding together: 48th Annual Columbus Marching Festival Sept. 24

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Columbus Marching Festival

Members of the Columbus High School marching band perform during the Columbus Marching Festival in September 2021 in downtown Columbus. The band recently finished first and fourth in competitions in Yankton, South Dakota, and Orange City, Iowa, respectively. 

Marching band, according to Columbus High School Band Director Jeff Peabody, is a serious commitment on the part of the performers.

"We have kids who are volunteering their time, they come to practice every day at 6:45 in the morning and they spend two weeks in the summer with me working really hard to be able to do what we do," Peabody said.

For that reason, any opportunity to show off their musical talents is not only appreciated, but well-earned, he added.

"With that kind of sacrifice and that kind of effort, any time you get a chance to share it is enjoyable and special, even more so when you’re sharing it with your parents, friends and family," Peabody said.

To showcase these talents, Columbus will play host to the 48th Annual Columbus Marching Festival. The competition will start with a parade down 13th Street at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24, followed by the competition at Pawnee Park's Memorial Stadium at 1 p.m. Peabody said the festival taking place in the students' hometown is rare among band competitions.

"A home show is always a big deal," Peabody said. "The fact that we’re hosting one here and get a chance to put our best foot forward in front of our friends and family and the community that has always been just so supportive of us means a lot to all of us."

This year, Peabody said he has two former students in the competitive arena with CHS, one being Joshua Reiff from Twin River High School. As Reiff's first year as band director, he's excited to see the event from the teacher side of things.

"As a student gets to be a part of the band as a player and one with the band. As a teacher I get to be in front of them guiding them along their way," Reiff said. "How much effort we put in is reflected in how well we do. It's a different way of looking at the experience."

While it is a competitive event, Peabody and Reiff both said they're excited for students to show off what they've learned to their community.

"The most exciting thing for me is being able to bring my own students to the competition and show them off as a band. They're pretty awesome," Reiff said.

Peabody said the best part of the event for him, as the competition organizer and CHS band director, is when he's able to stop being organizer and lead his students, especially this year as the arrangements are written specifically for this event.

"I have the best job in town. Nobody else gets to stand in front of 80-90 teens who all listen to me, volunteer to do extra things and want to get better, and I spend my day with that," Peabody said. "Any chance I get to take a minute and think about being their band director is the best part of my day."

Peabody added that while this is a competitive event, featuring 1,200 students spread across 18 bands, the competitive nature differs from that of a sporting event or typical team competition.

"You know at the end of a basketball game the winner is who got more points. We're being judged against what is the standard of what you can achieve," Peabody said. "We're competing mostly against ourselves to say 'are we better today than we were yesterday?'"

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