SIDEBAR | Marching band history BASTION OF Madison County schools have won the Indiana State Fair Band Day competition more often than any other county CHAMPIONS STORY BY JIM BAILEY HERALD BULLETIN FILE PHOTOS T hey’re not just tooting their horn when someone calls Madison County the Band Capital of Indiana. As high school marching bands across Indiana prepare for the 70th Indiana State Fair Band Day competition, Madison County schools have taken home the top trophy 15 times. That’s more than any other, including populous Marion County and neighboring Delaware County, each of which claim 12 winners. Anderson and Highland each entered the winner’s circle six times, tied with Franklin Central and Muncie Southside. Madison Heights added two titles. And in 1950, the fourth year of Band Day competition, Alexandria-Monroe won its lone title. The Tigers also added a small band championship in 1987. The quality of shows performed at Band Day has progressed remarkably over the years. And the prime mover who got the ball rolling was Anderson High School band director George Vaught, who masterminded the Marching Indians’ consecutive wins in 1957, 1958 and 1959. “He got it going all over the state, really,” said Don Hoffmann, who directed the AHS band to titles in 1985 and 1986. “He was a fantastic musician, and he was a good showman, as well. A lot of directors weren’t at that time.” Indeed, in the early years it was common for bands to rely on straight marching and music, maybe with a dance step or two added here and there. Anderson’s first Band Day appearance in 1955 combined straight marching with a Latin beat and turn-steps. In 1956, assistant director Gerald Bordner penned an arrangement of “Indian Love Call,” which Hoffmann and assistant director Bill Deal would adapt three decades later for Anderson’s fourth and fifth titles. Vaught’s winning combination the next three years included the concept of classical music on the march. Soon the Marching Indians faced competition from within their own city. Madison Heights’ 18 MADISON Evan Overman, staff member for the Highland High School marching band, gives a pep talk before the band performs in competition at the 2005 Indiana State Fair.