BATTLE OF THE BANDS: Greenfield-Central, New Palestine will perform back-to-back at state finals


Members of the Cougar Pride Marching Band form a circle as part of a pre-performance ritual before their semi-state show on Oct. 30.

Submitted photo

HANCOCK COUNTY — The Greenfield-Central and New Palestine High School marching bands are headed to the biggest event of the season this weekend in Indianapolis.

Both the Cougars and Dragons have qualified to take part in the Indiana State School Music Association State Finals Saturday, Nov. 6, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Cougar Pride is essentially the defending state champion in its class, having won the competition in 2019 before last year’s season was called off due to COVID. The Marching Dragons will be making their first visit to the state finals since 2007.

“It is kind of surreal for us and our team because this is the first show we’ve designed for this group,” said NPHS band director Jon Carney.

After regionals on Oct. 16, Carney and his staff felt the students were performing well enough to have a shot at state.

“We didn’t tell the kids that because that would have been stress that the kids didn’t need,” Carney said. “More than making state for the first time in 14 years, I’m just thrilled that the kids get to experience preforming at Lucas Oil and get to end the season on their terms, because many bands don’t.”

The Marching Dragons band has 73 members. Its show is called “Riddle Me This,” and the performance includes music from “Rhapsody in Blue,” by George Gershwin.

Directed by Chris Wing, the Cougar Pride has 150 members. Its show is called “rAMPed Up.” Wing noted it’s been a tough year for the students, working through the pandemic its related restrictions, but that the group has come through like the champions they are.

“While many people might complain about circumstances, our kids just haven’t,” Wing said. “They have worked hard since May to get better at what we do, and I’m really proud of them for that.”

Wing noted the appearance in the state finals is the culmination of all the time and energy they’ve invested, and he’s excited to see them turn in another outstanding state finals performance.

The G-C band will perform at 1:50 p.m. The NP band will take the field right after at 2:05 p.m. Both are competing in Open Class B in the daylong competition, which features 10 bands in each of four classes.

The bands in Open Class B are, in order of appearance: Bloomington North; Northview/Brazil; Greenfield-Central; New Palestine; Concord Community/Elkhart; North/Evansville; Jasper; North Side/Fort Wayne; Munster; and Greenwood Community. Judges’ winners will be announced starting at about 3:50 p.m., according to the schedule.

Both G-CHS and NPHS were named state qualifiers after top performances on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Pike High School during semi-state qualifying.

Carney hopes there will be some down time during the state finals so the two county bands can hang out and enjoy the day while soaking in the special atmosphere. He’d love to see G-C band, which he called a “great program,” and his band to finish first and second, in no particular order.

“They’ve got that experience of winning,” Carney said of G-C. “We have zero expectations.”

”We’re pretty excited and will hang our heads high no matter what,” Carney said.

Wing noted he’s excited for Carney and the New Pal band making it to state and said the Mt Vernon High School band, which did not advance, was phenomenal this year as well.

“Our county and conference if you add multiple-time state finalist Pendleton Heights, is extremely talented and has some great teachers,” Wing said.

He thinks it won’t be long before G-C, New Pal and Mt. Vernon are all three in the state finals representing the county.

“It will be very soon,” Wing said, but noted for now his focus is this year trying to bring home another state title.

If you go

Ticket information for Marhing Band State Finals, Saturday, Nov. 6, Lucas Oil Stadium:

Cost: $22 for adults and $18 for students and pre-school students.

Ticket Sales: Only mobile tickets (no paper tickets) will be sold. A smartphone will be needed to present tickets for entry.

Visit for more ticket information.

If you cannot purchase tickets in advance, tickets will be available at the main Lucas Oil Stadium ticket window located at the southeast corner of the stadium close to Capitol Avenue. (The North ticket office will not be open.)

Entry into the stadium will be through the north and west entrances only.