COVID-19 has affected yet another event in Waseca: the Waseca Marching Classic. This is the 33rd annual Marching Classic, but this year the classic is held virtually as a clinic with no in-person competition. This is the first time in the event’s history that it has preemptively been canceled.
The Marching Classic is adjusting the program to still offer an educational clinic for marching bands. For free, all bands that signed up can submit a video performing either a parade routine or a field show. The videos are put together in one video for viewers to watch starting on Oct. 1.
Along with no competition, there is no recognition of the Friend of the Classic or a Grand Marshal.
“I think that’s why it took us so long to make decisions because we were not ready to say we are not doing anything because we felt so bad,” Marching Classic Treasurer/Community Relations member Mary Williams said. “It’s our 33rd annual and music is a tradition of Waseca and these poor, poor students. We just felt so sorry. So we were procrastinating on making decisions and then on Aug. 10 we said let’s go for it, we’re not out anything and the only thing we were concerned about was we did not want to charge the public because they have been through enough already and we did not want to charge the bands.”
The videos from participating bands are due to the Marching Classic committee by Sept. 19. Once all of the videos have been received the final video with all bands is assembled and each band is announced before performing.
The virtual Marching Classic is available for free to watch until the end of the year. This means it can be watched several times or viewers can get together to watch the performances.
Williams said she wanted to make the video available for an extended period of time so the classic doesn’t interfere with other marching band competitions and so marching bands don’t feel they had to choose between events.
“This is what we figured would be the closest to having a show without having people here,” Marching Classic Chairperson Edna Burns said.
Each performance by a band is critiqued by the Tri-State judges who then send both written and verbal educational feedback to the marching bands directly.
The judges were one of the few costs for the virtual Marching Classic. The committee secured a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council to cover the cost of the judges.
The judges are head judge/guard judge Lane Powell, music general effect judge Jon Mattheis, music execution judge Dave Gudmastad, visual general effect judge Steve Citta, marching execution judge Andy Schmidt and percussion judge Barry Peterson. The company has been judging the Marching Classic since the beginning.
“To me this is a win-win situation for a band director,” Williams said. “There’s no charge, they’re going to get an educational critique, so it is a win-win situation.”
Each marching band receives a certificate of participation from the Marching Classic committee. This is the only cost coming out of pocket for the committee.
The other cost is the videographer, which is covered by a grant from the local Walmart. The use of a videographer started with the 2019 Marching Classic for those who wanted to watch at home live on the day of the event. Both the parade and the field show were shown live online. This year the cost is used to create the video that is posted online to view.
“Every year I go out to the businesses and ask for some financial help,” Williams said. “This year I felt I could not, except Walmart, I felt comfortable asking them.”
Planning the Classic
The Marching Classic committee splits the responsibilities of planning the event between all eight of the members. The eight members work to get funds, bands and organize the event together months before the event. The committee decided in July the in-person competition was not going to take place this year, but they weren’t ready to cancel all together.
“We talked about wanting something for the kids, because everything was being dropped in front of them,” Burns said. “So if we could give something to the kids and this is one way we thought we could still do that.”
On Aug. 10 the committee decided to host an all virtual recording of the Marching Classic to still give the students something to look forward to as well as the community.
“We have all had children in the band, all of us,” Williams said. “And so I think that’s our driving force. We have seen the benefits from having your child in band and I think that’s what drives us to continue participating in something the students can be proud of.”
The committee is always looking to add members who want to help with a community event.
“We are all in this together and the support that we feel from them (the community) makes this happen, but I think they too realize the benefit the community receives from this event. …,” Williams said. “It’s also letting our community know that we really want this to continue, so we felt we needed to do something this year because the community really benefits from this event.”