Lafayette band supporters donate for Estill Marching Engineers to compete in national competition
By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Photo courtesy of Nelson Benton
The Marching Engineers will be performing at the high school for the community on Saturday night at 7 p.m. They are gearing up to head to national competition in Indianapolis.
In a day when incivility is far too common, gestures of goodwill and support between two high school band competitors have captured hearts and ignited a friendship between the two schools.
That bond is now helping to pave the way for the Estill County Marching Engineers to compete for the very first time in the ‘Music for All’ Bands of America Grand National Championship in Indianapolis, Ind.
The story of this unlikely friendship began when the Marching Engineers made their first appearance ever at the Bands of America Regional Championship in Johnson City, Tennessee a few weeks ago. Thirty-three bands from nine states competed there.
During that competition, the Engineers cheered loudly for the Lafayette High School Band of the Bluegrass as they took the field, in second place.
Lafayette apparently doesn’t experience many cheers of support from other schools.
“Lafayette is the band other bands love to hate,” explained Estill Band Director Jason Bowles, “because they usually win.”
Estill County won first place in Class A and finished in 8th place overall, while Lafayette (a class AAA band with more than 200 members) went on to win the entire competition in Tennessee.
They haven’t forgotten the impression made on them by the much smaller Estill County band (which has about 80 members) and their parents, some of whom were quick to offer assistance on the field.
Parents and students of both bands began to exchange notes of encouragement and congratulations on their Facebook pages.
During state competition in Bowling Green on October 19, the bands supported each other, and when the Engineers came one tenth short of a Class AAA state championship, Lafayette’s words of kindness and goodwill bolstered their spirits.
Since those competitions, Lafayette support has become a more tangible thing, though. Parents, grandparents and friends of Lafayette parents began to make donations to help the Engineers attend the Music for All competition in Indianapolis.
Deborah Woods Spouse, a Lafayette band supporter and grandmother, said in a post on the band’s group page that donating to the Estill band would be a great way to show Lafayette’s appreciation for the support the Engineers had shown them in Tennessee.
These posts caught the attention of friend of a Lafayette parent, a Washington D.C. attorney who wishes to remain anonymous, who was so impressed by the good will between the bands that she offered to match dollar for dollar any donations supporting Estill’s trip to Nationals, up to $2,500, with the goal of raising $5,000 or more.
The cost for Estill County to attend Grand Nationals is projected to be around $40,000. The competition is a three day event, and the cost includes transportation, accommodations, meals, tickets, etc.
As of last week, the Estill band had already managed to raise $30,000. They need to raise $10,000 more before the competition, which happens the weekend of November 14-16.
EC band director Bowles called the support from Lafayette students and parents “mind boggling.”
He wrote in an email to one of the Lafayette supporters, “In my 24 years of being involved in this activity, this is the first time I have ever witnessed this type of camaraderie between bands, much less the unbelievable support shown from one group to another.”
Bowles has also been blown away by the support from Estill County.
“This community is unbelievable,” he said, adding that individuals and civic groups have been incredibly generous and supportive.
To show their appreciation, the Estill County Marching Engineers will present a public performance on Saturday, November 9 at 7 p.m. at the Estill County High School football field.
This performance is their chance to say “thank you” to everyone in the community who has supported them throughout the season. There is no cost of admission, and the band is eager to show the community the “full product.”
To help support the Engineers, donate at this link: https://bit.ly/2pxEtph. Or, contact any band member or their parent to make a purchase of fruit from their annual fruit sale fundraiser.