KAYSVILLE -- Thirty-three bands from across Utah and Idaho descended upon the newly turfed football field at Davis High School in Kaysville on Tuesday for the 39th annual Davis Cup Invitational, the oldest marching band competition in the state.
A handful of schools from the Top of Utah participated, battling the wind and periodic rain that plagued several of the performances.
Ogden High School placed third in the 2A division, Bountiful's Viewmont High School took second place in the 3A division, and in the 5A division, Sky View High School from Smithfield in Cache County received third place, and Davis High School earned second place, along with the Outstanding Percussion Caption Award.
Divisions are based on the size of the band, with the 5A division consisting of 120 or more members, ranging down to 1A, which includes bands with fewer than 50 members.
Other Top of Utah high school bands in the competition were from Weber in Pleasant View, Roy in Roy, Fremont in Plain City, and Mountain Crest in Hyrum in Cache County.
Judges from across the country flew in for the event, judging bands on musicality, visual effects, percussion and auxiliary performance.
Having new turf on the field for this year's marching band event was a huge improvement over the grass it had previously.
"The artificial turf is absolutely wonderful for our marching, because it's the same height with the way it's cut. Usually, by this point of time in previous years, the football team has torn up the grass, leaving dirt and holes in it, which can get dangerous. So this is a thousand times better," said Steven Hendricks, band director at Davis High.
Even the visiting students noticed the improvement. Drum Major Caitlin Lipsey, from Roy High, once sprained her ankle when she tripped over a divot in the old field at an earlier Davis Cup Invitational.
"I love the turf because it's a lot smoother, and it's easier to march on," she said.
The students may have been singing praises over the turf, but they were not praising the rain and windy weather. With the wind carrying the sound of the band away from the judges, color guard equipment getting blown in the wrong direction and band props getting blown over, the conditions were nothing close to ideal.
However, as bands had put hundreds of hours into rehearsals, they readily continued despite the weather.
The Davis High group began practicing their show early in the summer with band camp, then spent hours in the following weeks perfecting the show, which included 92 sets, or pages of drills, a far cry from their usual 75 sets.
Hendricks said the biggest challenge this year has been teaching the kids endurance.
"People don't realize that marching band is a very demanding activity," he said. "It's like telling a kid to go out on a track and run the 400-meter with an instrument in their hands while they are playing. It's literally a physical sport, and we've been working to build their stamina, so they don't run out of gas before the end of the show."
He admits their show is particularly difficult this year. But Hendricks knew the squad would enjoy the fruits of their labor at the Davis Cup Invitational, as evidenced by their second-place finish, less than five points behind American Fork High School, the first-place finisher in the 5A division.
Chase Blackwell, drum major for Davis High School, was proud of their band.
"Getting second place is still awesome," Blackwell said. "It was such a great show, and we're just closing the gap between the two schools."