Tuesday marked the 67th installment of the Mark Twain Marching Band Festival in Hannibal. For an event that's been around that long it's not surprising that it's become a multi-generational event for some families, including the Hume family of Palmyra.

Tuesday marked the 67th installment of the Mark Twain Marching Band Festival in Hannibal. For an event that’s been around that long it’s not surprising that it’s become a multi-generational event for some families, including the Hume family of Palmyra.

“I started marching in this when I was a seventh grader in middle school,” said John Hume, who is in his first year as band director at Palmyra High School. “It’s a great tradition and a lot of fun. It’s one of the highlights of marching season for me.”

Hume notes that Band Day has touched multiple generations of his family.

“It’s three generations actually,” he said. “My daughter (Emily) is going to march in her first Hannibal Band Day this year and my dad (John) marched in it when he was in high school back in the ‘50s.”

Another family experiencing multiple generations of Band Day is the Fountains. Pete and Jack Fountain, who were among the early birds picking out a prime spot from which to watch Tuesday’s parade down Broadway, were there to watch a granddchild in the Palmyra band, just as they had come in years past to support their own children.

“We have a granddaughter that’s in band and this is the first time we’ve been able to watch them all season,” said Pete Fountain. “We have been down here before when our kids were in band. Of course they’’re older now and now we have a grandkid.”

The Fountain’s granddaughter, who plays the saxophone, is one of 35 members in a PHS band that is going in a new direction this year.

“We’re getting back into the competitive side of marching band,” said Hume. “They’re doing a field show at Hannibal Band Day for the first time (Tuesday night) in as long as anybody can remember.”

A band of comparable size is the one from Mark Twain High School.

“I’ve got 33 kids in my band this year and a lot of them are seniors,” said Danny Lewis, who is in his third year at MTHS. “I think I’ve got 12 so this will be their fourth time at Band Day and they’re pretty excited. It’s probably their favorite festival that we do every year because they get to get out of school.”

Band Day provides the marching Tigers with the opportunity to do something different.

“We do one or two parades a year, so not too many,” said Lewis. “It (a parade) is a little out of the ordinary because mostly we do field shows.”

Marching in the parade and participating later in the field show portion of Band Day was the Pirate Pride Marching Band. Do the Pirates have a performing preference?

“Definitely the field show,” said senior Briar Douglas, one of the band’s three drum majors. “The parade is OK. We have a lot of fun doing the parade for our town, but the field show is definitely more fun because we can showcase our talents a little bit more.”

Anticipation regarding Band Day was high on Tuesday.

“I’d say everyone is excited about it. Maybe not as much as the competitions, but we’re excited to be hosting and having all the bands come to us,” said Douglas.

Debbie Higbee-Roberts, a director in the instrumental music program, agreed that all musicians, both from Hannibal and elsewhere, were fired up.

“This is our hometown event. They’re pretty pumped for Hannibal Band Day,” she said. “The other bands coming in love this event. They’re coming from all over the bi-state area. It’s a pretty big event.”

The 2015 music season has been enjoyable for Higbee-Roberts.

“We have 83, 84 kids in high school band. They’re doing a really good job, freshman through senior. They’re excited kids, energetic kids, good musicians. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

 

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com