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Festival will give bands their day in the spotlight

Fourteen marching bands will step out of the shadows of their schools' football teams at the Florida Bandmasters Association festival Saturday at Hernando High School in Brooksville.

"This is a big day for the bands," said Thomas Damato, Hernando High's band director. "This is our feature, instead of being a sidelight to a football game."

All 13 high schools in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties will participate, as well as the band from Parrott Middle School near Brooksville.

Starting at 11 a.m., each band will have 15 minutes to perform its field show. Five judges will rate the bands on quality of music, precision of marching and general presentation. Each band will receive an overall rating of superior, excellent, good, fair or poor.

"It's not a competition," Damato said. "It's seeing how each band stacks up against their own expectations."

There may not be a winner on the field, but clearly the Hernando High band program will come out a winner. For the first time, Hernando is hosting the district festival. That means the potential for raising a lot of money for the band.

"We've been working for months to get ready," said Ruth Flaspeter, president of the Hernando High Band Boosters. "The kids are excited about it, and so are the boosters. This should be a great day for everyone."

Proceeds will go to the boosters, including the $5 admission, $2 parking and money from the snack bar.

"We're prepared for up to 4,000 people," said Flaspeter. "I don't know if we'll get that many, but we're ready. I know people will enjoy it if they come out."