East Texas area band students strutted their stuff on the field during the recent UIL marching contest season that wrapped up last week.

Marshall, Hallsville, Harleton, Jefferson, Elysian Fields and Waskom High School bands all competed in the UIL marching contest regional competitions in mid-October, with some advancing on to the area competitions due to their outstanding performances.

According to UIL marching rules, 1A, 3A and 5A districts may advance from region to area competitions and then on to state during odd-numbered years, and 2A, 4A and 6A districts may advance from region to area competitions and then on to state during even-numbered years.

“This is a rule UIL adopted years ago to allow more bands to compete,” Harelton High School Band Director Christi Speer said. “We are 2A, so this wasn’t our year to advance to area.”

The districts that were allowed to advance from the regional competition in Mount Pleasant or Stephen F. Austin State University, on to area this year were Marshall, Hallsville, Jefferson, Elysian Fields and Waskom High Schools.

Of those bands, the Marshall High School Big Red Pride Marching Band and the Hallsville High School Roarin Band From Bobcat Land scored all first division ratings at the regional competition, advancing them to the area competition in Mesquite.

Jefferson and Waskom High Schools both scored third division ratings at the regional competition, while Elysian Fields High School scored an overall second division rating.

Marshall High School placed 19th out of 28 competing bands at the area competition but did not advance to area finals. Hallsville High School opted to instead skip the area competition in favor of staying home and attending their city’s 150th birthday event, the Hallsville Sesquicentennial Celebration.

“I felt like the band was really a lot better than that, we had had better runs but we weren’t able to march that morning due to weather so I’m still happy with our performance,” Marshall ISD Band Director Mark Windham said. “We were competing in area ‘C’ which is the toughest area in 5A, so I’m proud of them. I think the band was stronger than 19th; We played a difficult show.”

Windham said now the band’s 154 members are looking forward to supporting the Mavericks as they gear up for their first playoff game.

Hallsville High School Band Director Sherri Morgan said she has her best band ever this year and she was incredibly proud of their performance at the marching contest.

“We had an awesome performance at region,” she said. “This is the strongest band I’ve had since I’ve been teaching, and we qualified for area in Mesquite but it was the same weekend as our homecoming and our Hallsville Sesquicentennial Celebration, so I felt it was more important for us to stay and support our community since our community has always supported us.”

During the homecoming weekend when the band missed their area competition, the Bobcat Band celebrated its 70th anniversary, with more than 158 band alumni returning to play with the band and march with them in the Hallsville Sesquicentennial parade.

“We had a blast,” Morgan said. “Some of the alumni marched in the parade with the band and the others rode on two floats. We had our majorettes and flags forever return, and some of them were able to twirl with their daughters. It was really awesome and everyone had a great time. To me, that was more important than going to an area marching contest.”

The Bobcat Band has 168 members this year, and Morgan said the band just keeps growing.

“We will probably have close to 200 members next year,” she said. “This is such a hard working group, the hardest working group I’ve ever had and I’m so proud of them.”

Speer said she is proud of her Harleton Wildcat marchers who would have advanced had it been an even number year after her band received a superior first division rating at the regional competition.