BEMIDJI-The Bemidji High School Marching Band kicked off its 2019 season in a big way, earning Class AA first-place honors June 14 at the Pioneerland Band Festival in Benson, Minn. The next night, Bemidji placed second in Class AA at a competition in Buffalo, Minn.

The season continued last week with competition parades in Foley and Sauk Rapids.

Bemidji fans will be able to see the 105-member marching band in action on Thursday, June 27, with a Meet the Band dinner and performance at BHS. Tickets are available from marching band members.

They also will perform in the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival Parade on Sunday, July 7.

Parade competitions are judged by members of the Tri-State Judging Association. Each band begins the parade by running through its program as a warmup prior to the judging. When the band reaches the 100-yard judging zone, it performs the program and is scored on a variety of areas such as how the music is put together, how the music fits with the show, how well the students are executing the show and their marching technique. After that, they typically perform the show one more time before the parade ends.

Derek Wickum is directing the marching band for the 18th season. Eric Sundeen is the drum coach, Christine Freundschuh is the color guard coach, Arlo Baratono is assistant director and Danielle Baratono, a former marching band member, is working with the woodwinds. Wickum credited a dedicated group of parents for helping with logistics during the marching band season.

"I've got a really good crew of parents who help," Wickum said. "We couldn't do it without them."

Music rehearsals began in early May, and high school students, including this year's graduates, have been joined by incoming BHS freshmen.

Bemidji's Olivia Carlson and Matt Jensen were honored at the Buffalo parade as outstanding drum majors.

After Thursday's event at BHS, the marching band will continue its busy season with parade competitions in St. Cloud on June 29 and Alexandria on June 30. They will perform at the Medora (N.D.) Musical on July 2 and will march in the Independence Day Parade on July 4 in Deadwood, S.D.