Madison Life and Times Summer 2016 - Page 19

Band of Pirates won their first state fair title in 1963 under the direction of Francis Barker. “It didn’t hurt that you had to go head to head with the other bands in the county,” Hoffmann explained. “You had to be good.” It was not uncommon for the three Anderson area bands to place in the top five at the fair. Highland’s Scottish motif quickly made a hit, winning the school’s first title in 1968 under the direction of Bruce Smith. Hugh Callison was director in 1970 and 1971 for the next two Marching Highlanders wins. “Highland was always unique with its Scottish uniforms and bagpipes,” said Doug Fletcher, who directed the school’s other three winning bands, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Fletcher, who directed the combined band when Anderson and Highland consolidated in 2010, is the state’s winningest director with 12 championships – five at Winchester, three at Monroe Central, Highland’s three and the 2010 Anderson Marching Highlanders’ title. Highland took a hiatus from State Fair Band Day from 1976 to 2003 to concentrate on Indiana State School Music Association field band competition. The Highlanders made the ISSMA state finals 16 times, scoring as high as third place twice, in 1995 and 1997. Madison Heights took its second State Fair Band Day crown in 1980, under director Thomas Osborne. Hoffmann, part of the Anderson band program for 40 years and Vaught’s successor as director, credited Deal for innovative marching drills that provided the impetus for AHS victories in 1985 and 1986. “His drill was different,” said Hoffmann. “Most bands then did their drills as a unit, but he broke up the block and had people going different directions. That put us over the top.” Fletcher’s Highland bands triumphed in the odd years from 2005 to 2009. “They were all great kids, and those were all good years,” he The 1986 Marching Indians proudly display their first-place trophy after winning the 1986 State Fair Band Day competition. Anderson Marching Highlanders band members react to the announcement of their victory at the Indiana State Fair Band Day contest in 2010. said. “Building a championship band is like working a puzzle and making every piece fit.” Fletcher then had to deal with the consolidation of two bands of proud but varying traditions after Highland High was shut down and the building transformed into a middle school. Suddenly, two marching bands had to be congealed into one. It posed a unique challenge. “I couldn’t have asked that the summer go better,” he said. “The band was leading the way on the merge. We had to play the hand that was dealt us, but everyone was on board from day one. It took a lot of hard work by all groups.” For giving the community something to root for and helping smooth the school consolida- tion, Fletcher was named The Herald Bulletin’s Community Person of the Year in 2010. State Fair Band Day continues to evolve. Hoffmann pointed out that the trend now is toward drum and bugle combinations. “There’s more percussion and scenery and backdrops. Sometimes it’s more of a show than (strictly) marching,” he said. Fletcher, now back at Winchester, sees motivation as the key to winning. “I’ve had great help along the way,” he said. “Each year is different.” ❚ Doug Fletcher, named The Herald Bulletin’s Community Person of the Year for 2010, poses with the Anderson Marching Highlanders’ first-place trophy from the State Fair Band Day competition. Highland post grad Mitch Stafford presides over the “wedding” of Zach Weston and Haylei Banister as the Highlanders perform "Highland Cathedral” during the 2007 Indiana State Fair Band Day. Jim Bailey is a columnist and frequent contributor to The Herald Bulletin. MADISON 19