FAIRFIELD — The rain paused for a brief moment Saturday afternoon, providing some relief for hundreds of students gathered at Fairfield High School.
Some marched with an instrument in hand, others danced with a baton and flag, but whether there was a downpour or a sprinkle, the students wouldn’t stop.
The show lasted all day at the 24th Annual Tournament of Champions, one of Northern California’s premier band festivals. More than 40 high school band programs competed Saturday.
The categories included parade, concert band, jazz band and field show band. While jazz and concert bands played indoors, parade and field show groups had to battle cold, wet weather from the start of the festival at 9 a.m. to the last performance at 10 p.m.
Bands from all over the Bay Area came to Fairfield to compete. Local high schools such as Fairfield, Armijo, Vanden and Rodriguez competed as well as county-wide and state-wide schools from Sacramento to San Francisco.
The parade show band members, dressed sharply in their elaborate uniforms, stayed in line and remained stoic under ever-changing conditions. The participants kept smiling without sliding or falling during their routines.
The judges paid attention to several factors including musicianship, formations, synchronization and difficulty (particularly in pageantry).
The students had brief respite from the rain about noon and huddled under tents and awnings for lunch.
Many of the students’ spirits were high even with about 10 hours to go.
Phazon O’Con, drum major for Fairfield’s Scarlet Brigade Marching Band, was tired but also exhilarated. As a senior, the tournament was one of his final opportunities to play with the band. Whatever the end result, he said, he’d be happy.
And though they weren’t performing, many parents and friends stood on the sidelines Saturday cheering for their band members.
Suzanne Ho, a parent of a student at American High School, had a senior of her own playing clarinet in the parade band. For Ho, the event was more than a competition.
“I just can’t believe it’s her last year,” she said. “I’ve gone to so many (band) competitions. This is one of her last.”
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.