Preparing for the Ninth Annual Battle on the Border is no easy feat.
During the next few days, Lowndes High School’s Georgia Bridgemen will see band students, band parents, volunteers and band directors readying everything to host 11 visiting bands from Georgia, Alabama and Florida throughout a day of competition Saturday at Martin Stadium, then play an exhibition show at day’s end.
Phil Mika, Hahira Middle School band director and a Bridgemen assistant band director, and Matt Hart, the Bridgemen band booster president, will know the brunt of preparations.
As the man who pushed the idea of the Battle on the Border, Mika has spent the past weeks and months registering the bands, inviting band directors to judge the competition, preparing dozens of other tasks, and he will cook the barbecue dinner served this weekend.
Hart has been preparing teams of parent volunteers to have the field and stadium ready, to help visiting bands and their students, and handle any number of expected and unexpected tasks. An estimated 140 boosters will work the band competition this weekend.
Beginning at noon Saturday, Oct. 19, the Georgia Bridgemen will host an afternoon of band performances playing in the following order, according to a Battle on the Border schedule, Rohobeth High School, Yulee High School, Lanier County High School, Ware County High School, Baker County High School, Brunswick High School, Leon High School, North Paulding High School, Wayne County High School, Houston County High School, and Valdosta High School.
These preliminary performances should be completed by 4 p.m. From these 11 bands, eight will be chosen for the next round of competition. Starting at 7 p.m., the first band will play, continuing through each competing band until approximately 9 p.m.
At 9 p.m., the LHS Georgia Bridgemen play an exhibition performance. Final awards will be presented following the Bridgemen performance from grand champions to eighth place.
Eleven bands is down from last year’s 19 groups that competed in Battle on the Border, but 11 is a far more manageable number than 19, Mica says.
Many of these bands will travel to Valdosta-Lowndes County from out of town. They will play their respective football half-time shows Friday night then load onto buses Saturday morning to travel here. In Valdosta, they will spend money on hotel rooms, in restaurants and other area locations.
For the Georgia Bridgemen, the competition is the band’s chief annual fundraiser, Hart says. These funds help band students who may not be able to afford otherwise to attend Bridgemen trips.
Battle on the Border sponsors are Farmers and Merchants Bank and Lassiter Tractor. The public is invited to attend the event which will have vendors with plenty of food available.
BATTLE ON THE BORDER
Lowndes High School Georgia Bridgemen host the Ninth Annual Battle on the Border.
When: Saturday, Oct. 19. Gates open 11 a.m.; preliminary competition starts noon; final competition starts 7 p.m.
Where: Martin Stadium, off Norman Drive.