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Rosemount High School: Marching band festival comes early this year at RHS

The Rosemount High School is packing up its annual Rosemount Marching Band Festival and moving it to the other end of the competition calendar.

For the past 18 years Rosemount's competition was the last on the schedule in Minnesota. Over the years it became a kind of unofficial state championship, drawing some of the best bands in the state.

But with the introduction two years ago of the Youth in Music Band Championship at the Metrodome, Rosemount, the two time defending Youth in Music champions, lost even that unofficial title. They also lost some of the bigger name bands that used to show up. Schools chose instead to spend their time preparing for the bigger show the following weekend.

So, this year RHS is making some changes. Rather than hold the last competition of the year they're holding the first. And while Saturday's revamped edition of the Rosemount Marching Band Festival will still be a competition band director Steve Olsen wants to make it a learning experience, too.

"Our focus now, instead of being the unofficial state championship, we're going to help you get your show off the ground and really make it special for the fall season," Olsen said. "We brought in some judges who are especially noted around the country as educators.... The focus is on giving (the bands) some creative ideas and feedback."

Olsen isn't kidding about bringing in big-name judges. One of this year's judges is Richard Saucedo, the director of the 2006 national champion marching band from Carmel High School in Indiana and the brass arranger for the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, a five-time world champion. Also on the panel is Jerry Luckhardt, band director and music school director at the University of Minnesota.

Olsen said bands will have a chance during the day to attend workshops with the judges.

Saturday's competition, which starts at 5 p.m. at Irish Stadium, will feature bands from Grand Rapids, Rocori, Hastings, Eastview, Rochester Lourdes, Anoka, Irondale, Andover, Eden Prairie, Champlin Park and Marshall. Rosemount, which as the host school will not be scored, will perform last.

"We've got all the top bands from the Minnesota area. We're pretty darned excited about it," Olsen said. "It should be just a tremendous day."