KAYSVILLE — Within minutes of stepping onto the football field, Provo High School mellophone player Cade Brimhall felt his hat torn from his head by a stiff wind.
"I didn't know what to do," Brimhall said afterward. "If I had picked up my hat when it fell off, we would have been docked points."
Provo High was one of 33 schools from Utah and Idaho competing Tuesday at the 2012 Davis Cup Invitational Marching Band Competition, and Brimhall was one of countless student musicians trying to ignore the increasingly bothersome elements.
During the course of the nine-hour competition at Davis High School, students, parents and officials bundled up against the rain and wind as dark, ominous clouds rolled in from the north.
But the music wouldn't — and couldn't — be stopped.
Zachery Austin, drum major for Stansbury High School, said he was pleased with his band's performance, which included "Swing, Swing, Swing" by John Williams and an arrangement of "Ol' Man River" and "That Old Black Magic" by Richard Saucedo.
Austin said the band performed as well as it could considering the weather, but he emphasized the "considering" caveat.
"When the wind kicks in, it moves your mouthpiece," he said. "You're out of tune. You're not playing at your full potential."
According to the Davis Cup organizers, the competition — now in its 39th year — is the oldest marching band competition in the state. For participating schools, the event offers a chance for bands to practice their performances before the state competition in November, which typically marks either the end to a long season or a ticket to nationals.
For students at Davis High, rehearsals started the Monday after classes ended last spring, said band director Steven Hendricks. Except for a short break around the end of July, that meant three-hour practices, three times a week for the entire summer.
For Austin, a senior, the end of marching band season is bittersweet. On one hand, "band is my life," he said, but on the other hand, a summer without 6 a.m. practices doesn't sound so bad.
"It's a long season, but this is the greatest group of kids I've ever been with," Austin said. "It's sad, but I'm so excited to have a summer to myself."
For some schools, the season will continue after the state competition in November. Austin said Stansbury is hoping to raise money to participate in the Inauguration Parade in Washington, D.C., in January. Earlier that month, Davis High School's marching band will travel to Pasadena, Calif., to represent Utah in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Davis High participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2003, Hendricks said, and is only the second Utah school, after American Fork High School, to play in the parade twice. Davis received its invitation about a year ago. While it was exciting for the band's 250 students, it also meant there was a lot of work to do.
"They had no clue what was ahead of them," Hendricks said. "It just jacks up your schedule like crazy."
Because of parade preparation, the director said band members have had to do extra fundraising and three times as many performances as they typically would. The school has successfully raised the money for travel expenses — not counting a portion that students pay themselves — but is still working to raise funds for replacing antiquated instruments.
Before they can go to Pasadena, the students needed to compete for the Davis Cup, which Hendricks said was more than ample practice for the Rose Parade.
"It makes going down the street a piece of cake for them," he said of the complicated patterns involved in field performances.
Becca Cardon, a member of Ogden High's color guard, said after her school's performance that it was one of the best they had ever done. Cardon and the other members of her guard showed off new costumes and props for the very first time at the Davis Cup, something they said can be challenging but is typical of their performances.
"I stumbled in the fourth song," Cardon said. "I think we pulled it off pretty well for having brand new stuff."
The 33 schools participating in Tuesday's event were separated into divisions, from 1A to 5A, based on each band's size. Music ranged from modern arrangements, like Fremont High School's performance of the music of Bruno Mars, to more classical fare, like Ogden High's music from Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird," which included a 30-foot model volcano.
American Fork High School was named the winner in the 5A division and overall winner of the Davis Cup. Davis High School came in second, with Skyview High School finishing third.
The Davis Cup Invitational is organized by an association of parents and relies on the efforts of about 200 volunteers, Davis Cup committee chairman Lincoln Homer said. Proceeds from the event are used to offset the expenses of the Davis High School marching band program.
Class 1 A1 comment on this story
First Place — Timpanogos
Second Place — Grantsville
Third Place — West Jordan
Class 2 A
First Place — Pocatello ID
Second Place — Tooele
Third Place — Ogden
First Place — Lone Peak
Second Place — Viewmont
Third Place — Blackfoot (ID)
First Place — Timpview
Second Place — Westlake
Third Place — Riverton
First Place — American Fork
Second Place — Davis
Third Place — Sky View