DCI Spring Training is presented by Digital Performance Gear.
As drum corps performers across the country begin their “move-ins” for spring training rehearsals, those charged with the behind-the-scenes operations of Drum Corps International Tour events are also getting their own spring training refresher as the summer of 2023 nears.
Approximately 30 individuals who make up DCI’s on-site event managers, contest coordinators and event safety managers gathered at Drum Corps International’s Indianapolis headquarters at the beginning of May for two days of intensive training, collaboration and preparation for the summer season ahead.
Individuals in attendance represent the key behind-the-scenes decision makers who annually help ensure the nearly 100 DCI Tour events across the country run without a hitch.
Event managers handle all of the logistics for an event down to the seemingly mundane tasks like the strategic placement of portable toilets outside of the stadium. They ensure the successful execution of every aspect of the event, serving as a main point of contact with stadium officials, supervising all on-site event staff, and dealing with any unforeseen issues that may pop up during the course of the day.
Contest coordinators handle the competitive aspects of an event from making sure corps are entering and exiting the field at the appropriate times, to ensuring that the event is running and staying on schedule. They also serve as the main point of contact with each event’s judging panel and coordinate the release of the scores and results at the end of the night.
Event safety managers, while initially brought on board in 2021 to handle COVID compliance, these individuals now serve as an additional set of eyes working hand-in-hand with event managers during a DCI show. They look at overall safety across a variety of areas, anything from monitoring weather and how it will affect the course of event including where performers and audience members alike are moved in the event of inclement conditions, to ensuring that the setup of merchandise tents and trailers in the festival marketplace don’t cause any safety concerns or hazards.
Nearly immediately following the end of the 2022 DCI World Championships last August and throughout the drum corps off-season, these event staff members have been compiling detailed planning docs to support each event on the 2023 DCI Tour.
“At this point, our events team has full plans put together for what's going to happen on site on event day,” DCI senior event operations manager Eric Hjellming said. “So now we spent the weekend talking through those plans — load-in and day-of event timelines, location maps and parking details, corps transit details, what stadium tunnels the corps are coming in and out of and if there are any tunnel height or dimension concerns, walking through event safety plans, and a whole host of other logistical elements.”
Hjellming says that discussions on those plans helped the team identify any action items that still need to be addressed or taken care of over the coming weeks as the 2023 DCI Tour gets underway.
As scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” In any stage of event planning, preparation is key, and it is also why so much emphasis is put on drilling through basic event details to ensure that if and when something unexpected comes up, that it can be dealt with accordingly.
“The focus was on how these groups of event staff work together and what the best practices are and what the things are that everyone can do on site to ensure a smooth, efficient, safe and successful event day,” Hjellming said. “Getting those best practices written down and getting them drilled into people’s heads is one of the best ways for us to ensure that happens.”
The 2023 Drum Corps International Tour is set to kickoff on Wednesday, June 28 in Rockford, Michigan.