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High school bands compete at the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair

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GOUVERNEUR — One of the biggest high school band competitions in the north country paraded through the Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair on Wednesday, Carlton Peck Day.

The band competition featured marching bands from Ogdensburg Free Academy, and Heuvelton, Morristown, Gouverneur, Lisbon and Thousand Islands central schools.

“It’s the biggest day of the year for the fair and it just brings out big crowds,” said Sean A. Peck, competition organizer. “With the six bands that are here, it’s the largest number of bands for any competition this year in Northern New York.”

Mr. Peck said the annual event began 49 years ago with his father, former Gouverneur resident Carlton Peck.

“There were no awards in Northern New York for bands, so he started it and now there are competitions all over Northern New York because of what he started,” his son said.

Sean Peck organized the parade this year because his father has been sick. Three judges from the Northern New York Parade Judges Association accompanied Carlton Peck at the judging table.

The 16 awards representing different aspects of each band are named after members of the Peck family.

Erica L. Chase, a senior from Ogdensburg, plays the trumpet for her school’s band and had two solos in the performance.

“It’s about the music and everyone having a good time,” she said. “It’s a competition, but it’s all about the fun of the competition.”

For most of the schools, this was the final competition event of their season.

“This is kind of the summation of our season,” said Glenn Roberts, Canton, director of Lisbon Central’s band. “It’s the final time that we see everybody together in competition.”

Mr. Roberts said he’s been directing the band in Lisbon for 12 years and it is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of competing.

“It’s been a great season so far, so we hope to just go out, do our best show and see what happens,” he said.

Richard E. Patton is the band instructor for Morristown Central. He said that although the school has a smaller group of students, their 39-member band is “loud and proud.”

He said this competition is one of the most important events of the year because the musicians get to watch the other bands perform.

“When we’re in a parade rally, nobody gets to see each other’s show,” Mr. Patton said.

Sydney K. Sargent, a 10th- grader from Heuvelton Central School, also was excited for the opportunity to watch her competition perform.

“We’ve seen bits and pieces of other performances but never the whole show,” she said.

Miss Sargent is a baton twirler in the 68-student band.

“We’re just excited,” she said. “We want to go out there and give the crowd a good show and feed off of their energy so we can perform to the best of our ability.”

Kathy J. Wiley, band director for Thousand Islands Central School, said her instrumental band has more than 40 students.

“We like this parade,” she said. “I know that the kids really enjoy it and it’s nice to be able to perform for the other bands as well.”

Joanne McCarthy stood in the stands watching three of her children — Katie B., 14, Jenny L., 12, and Michael A., 9 — perform in the Thousand Islands band.

“Two carry the flag and one plays the flute,” she said. “It’s exciting to see them out there.”



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