Hello Friends,

The last two days of our trip are mostly travel days, but are still terrific opportunities to visit and share time with our friends. Quality time on the bus is always a wonderful way to finish a trip filled with shared experiences. Yesterday was spent driving west to Niagara, NY for a 300 yard boat ride on “The Maid of the Mist”, a ferry that travels back and forth between it’s dock and the base of Niagara Falls and back. Facebook is filled with pictures of fashion-forward HERD members in their attractive blue plastic ponchos. After the falls, we had a terrific group meal at Fortuna Italian Restaurant. It was a fantastic meal and included entirely too much food. Almost nobody finished. It is now 11:15 CST. We are heading west on I 94 and are 19 miles east of the Dells. We’ll stopping in Eau Claire for a stretch and light meal, and then will head to beautiful Buffalo/Hanover/Montrose, MN. It will be great to be home.

Boston/Bristol Day 5


This was another day of straight tourism.  We spent the late morning and early afternoon in Plymouth, MA, visiting the Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum depicting the experiences of both the early Pilgrim and the indigenous people living in the area.  We then toured the Mayflower II and looked at the underwhelming Plymouth Rock.

Our next stop was Easton Beach in Newport, RI.  Some chose to take a tour of “The Breakers,” the Vanderbilt summer cottage…100,000 square feet of pure opulence.  Others swam in the bay, but it was a difficult swim.  The water was pretty disgusting with red seaweed and water bugs.  Still, it was the ocean and it demanded to be swum in.

Finally we travelled a couple miles to the other side of the peninsula for shopping and eating in the village of Newport.  Many of the students had their first tastes of new foods.  Clam Chowder and Lobster were common meal items.

Tomorrow we leave for Niagara.


Hello Friends.  It has been so busy that I have not been able to find an extended time to make any blog entries at a time when I’ve got internet access.  As it so happens, that time will never come, so I’m typing this post at about 1:00 on Monday morning.  Please forgive me if there are more than the usual amount of errors or if I am unusually verbose, loquacious, or otherwise longwinded.

Day 1: We loaded at 5:00 and were “wheels up” at 6:00. It was a long day of travel that was made to feel longer by our exceedingly slow progress around Chicago. We stopped for meals twice; once in Madison, WI and once in Indiana, then drove through the night.

Day 2: After a breakfast stop and a lunch stop, we arrived in Boston 3 ½ hours late, tired but excited to begin our New England adventure. Our first stop was the New England Aquarium, a terrific facility with an enormous aquarium holding a tropical reef surrounded by thousands of fish and other creatures of all sizes. Sharks, rays and giant sea turtles were some of the kids’ favorites. There was also a wonderful penguin exhibit.

After checking into the hotel and dropping off luggage, we departed for Bristol, RI to be spectators at the Drum Corps International competition held there annually on July 3rd as part of their Independence Day Celebration. There were 7 groups in competition including 2 of the top groups in the world: The Cadets, and the Blue Devils. Between them, these two Drum and Bugle Corps have won 19 World Titles since 1976. It was inspiring to see and hear what it is possible to accomplish with a relentless commitment to excellence. At the end of the show, “The HERD” was presented with a numbered print of a painting by artist Richard Kaiser, commemorating the 230th annual Bristol, Rhode Island Fourth of July Celebration.

Day 3: Parade Day…We arrived in Bristol at 8:30 and started warming up at 9:30. By 11:10 we were ready to go and were told to get into position in the parade line-up. That’s were we stayed until about 12:00 when we started moving up the ½ mile long chute to the actual parade route. It was about 12:30 when we turned the corner onto the parade route and were met by a sea of screaming fans…yes…fans. These people love, Love, L-O-V-E marching bands. They begged us to play continuously for an hour and forty-five minutes. At times, their screams and cheers were so loud that the band members could not even hear the drum majors’ whistles or the drumline’s cadence. It was exhilarating. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, 10 people deep for 2.7 miles, the band rose to the occasion and absolutely “killed it” time and again. We did 10 performances of “Buffalo Dances”, 15 performances of the BHS School Song “Stand for Our Team”, and the drumline must have played their street cadence at least 20 times. And…the band kept getting better and better as the parade went on. In my 34 years as a marching band instructor, clinician, and judge, I have never witnessed a band continue to “sell” all the way to the end of a parade the way this one does. To say that I am proud of you is a profound understatement. I believe that this was one for the greatest days in the history of “The HERD” and it did not include any judges, scores, or trophies…just a passionate band communicating with a passionate audience.

Congratulations to Alex Rasset, winner of the Golden Dinkle for Best Visual Performance By a Member of “The HERD.” Alex projects the style of the band 100% of the time in every minute of every rehearsal and performance.

After stopping in Providence, RI for dinner, we returned to the hotel and took a couple hours to get cleaned up, relax, and do a little swimming. Then, it was off to Fall River, MA to see the local fireworks. They were amazing to watch over the world’s largest collection of WWII naval vessels including the battleship USS Massachusetts, docked in the Taunton River. It was a sight to see.

Day 4: On a day that we completely rearranged the first half of the schedule, we managed to pack in a wide variety of activities. First up, was a visit to the JFK Library. An hour and 20 minutes was simply not enough time. The students took a lot of time to read, watch films, and discuss the historical information being presented at the museum. They asked lots of great questions, had insightful observations and, generally, would have made their teachers and parents proud of their intellectual curiosity and engagement.

Next stop was shopping and dining at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. This area covers several blocks and includes a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and street vendors. A highlight for the kids was watching the many talented and entertaining street performers.

At 3:00 we boarded the buses and were joined by tour guides that led us throughout the city of Boston and took us to many historical sites including Paul Revere’s house, Boston Common, The Old North Church and The USS Constitution-“Old Ironsides”, which is currently in dry-dock.

The highlight of the day was a three-hour dinner and dance aboard a large boat as we cruised the length and breadth of Boston Harbor. The meal was great, the weather was fantastic, and the band danced for 2 ½ hours on the top deck of the boat. It has even been rumored that the directors showed the kids a thing or two on the dance floor.

Tomorrow looks like a great day as we plan to visit the Plimoth Plantation, The Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and Newport, RI.


Hello Friends,

I forgot a very important part of last night’s success.  Our Drum Majors were selected as “Best Drum Majors” by the judging panel.  So congratulations to Ryan Bowers, Sarah Kolling and Drew Borgerding.  They have done a fantastic job all season and we could not have had the kinds of experiences we did, without their talent and leadership.

I must also take a moment to thank the parents.  It takes a small army of adults to get this show on the road and only four of us are paid.  Dozens of parents have invested countless hours, under the leadership of Shari McNitt, to make sure the students have everything they need, whenever they need it.  I am continually amazed by the things the “just happen” when I’m not looking.  To the Band Aides, the Trailer Aides, the Van Drivers, the Trailer Maintenance Crew, the Sewers (as in thread and needle), the Ocean of Purple at every parade…THANK YOU! It is humbling to be associated with such an amazing group of people.

Roseville Parade

It was a strange evening my friends.  After getting dressed we were chased onto our buses by a powerful thunderstorm.  An hour later, it was a beautiful night for marching.  We had no audience, but the bands and the judges were still there so we had a bands-only parade and everybody got judged.  I believe it was one of your finest performance of the year and the judges agreed.  Many of the bands put up lower scores than they had posted in yesterday’s parades while “The HERD” posted its highest score of the year earning 2nd place in Class AAA and 3rd overall.

It has been an exciting year for us competitively.  At the start of each season, we really cannot guess how successful we will be.  All we control is our attitudes and work ethic.  This year, in head to head competition with the strongest performing groups in the state, a strong argument could be made that we were the 5th ranked band in Minnesota.  And, our average score throughout the season was the second highest in the 28 year history of “The HERD”.

Congratulations to the winner of “The Golden Dinkle” for tonight: Elizabeth LaCasse from the Alto Sax section.

Here are tonight’s results:

Class A

Litchfield 87.9

Zumbrota-Mazeppa 76.4

Richfield 69.8


Class AA

Henry Sibley 83.8

Champlin Park 82.9

Alexandria 76.7

STMA 76.0


Class AAA

728 Cadets 90.1

“The HERD” 84.2

The Patriots 78.8

Blaine 71.0

St. Cloud

Another great job by the “The HERD”.  I have already collected many compliments on your fine performance today.  Winner of “The Golden Dinkle” is Clarinet Section member Jon Immel.

There were two classes today.  “The HERD” was 4th is Class AA and 5th overall.  Scores for almost all bands were 2-4 points lower today than for the past couple parades.  This is an artifact of today’s judging panel, not the performance level of the bands.

Class AA

84.5 728 Cadets

82.8 Mankato Lancers

81.3 Henry Sibley

79.7 “The HERD”

78.0 Sauk Rapids-Rice

73.3 St. Michael-Albertville


Class A

82.8 Litchfield

78.1 Milaca

73.4 Winona Cotter

71.4 Sartell-St. Stephen

66.5 Foley

See you for a 2:00 downbeat in the band room on Monday.  I am proud of you all.

Sauk Rapids

Wow!  This was the best performance of the year for the band as a whole.  Your performance in judging was truly moving.  I was pleased with every unit within the band…great performances all over the place.

Congratulations to the winner of “The Golden Dinkle”, Trey Hubbard from the trumpet section.

There were ten bands in competition tonight.  You were 2nd in your class and 3rd overall.  Only 7 Minnesota bands have scored in the 80’s this summer and 5 of them were here tonight.  It seems like every parade is a meat grinder.

86.9 729 Cadets 1st in Class AAA (1st in every caption overall)

85.7 Litchfield  1st in Class AA (2nd in every caption overall)

83.6 “The HERD” 2nd in Class AAA (3rd in Music, 3rd in Marching 4th in General Effect, 4th in Percussion, 6th in Colorguard)

82.9 Park Center 2nd in Class AA

81.0 Champlin Park 3rd in Class AAA

75.4 KMS 1st in Class A

69.3 Sartell 3rd in Class AA

61.4 Bertha-Hewitt 2nd in Class A

61.2 Foley 3rd in Class A

60.5 Royalton 4th in Class A

Well done my friends!




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