Drum Corps International
Drum Beauty or Drum Stress?

Drum Beauty or Drum Stress?

by Drum Corps International

This past week, we devoted some editorial attention to drum corps events and memories that happen and have happened in the Northern U.S. Here's the final installment, submitted by Drum Beauty coordinator David Eckberg. Having run Drum Beauty in Stillwater, Minn., since 1975, we could spend many evenings telling stories from our 29 years of experience as show producers. This past year, 2003, we moved into a new stadium at Stillwater Area High School. Perhaps that event prompts this particular memory. In 1979, the Stillwater school board authorized adding six new rows to concert-side seating, new lights, a new track and new restroom facilities at the old Stillwater High stadium. Approval was granted in February, with our '79 Drum Beauty show scheduled for Aug. 1. The construction company assured both the school district officials and our staff that the stadium would be finished well in advance of our August 1 show. Everything looked good on paper. Tickets for Drum Beauty '79 went on sale April 15. We had designed a new seating chart including the additional six rows of seats. The entire concert side was sold out by June 10. Community excitement was high. Everything on the show end was working well. In the meantime, a lot of things were falling apart on the construction side. A major concrete shortage in the area affected the footings for the new light standards and the additional bleachers. The bleachers themselves were back-ordered and not scheduled for completion in Indiana until July 20. A trucker's strike further complicated matters, making transport of the bleachers to Stillwater difficult at best. The net situation was that we had a sold-out show in a stadium with no lights that would accommodate approximately 60 percent of the tickets sold. Solutions to the problem other than finishing the stadium on time were nonexistent. No other stadium in the area was big enough. The job had to be completed or we had no show. Show staff and school district officials successfully lobbied our largest Twin Cities concrete firm to get enough concrete to finish the footings for the bleachers and lights. The bathroom building construction was put off until the fall. A portable restroom company donated units for the show. The bleacher company in Indiana found three independent truckers who agreed to transport the bleachers to Stillwater late Sunday night, arriving Monday morning, eight days before the show. The bleacher construction company assigned double crews to our project with orders that the stadium must be usable by the evening of July 31, one day prior to the show. The new bleachers were in place at 7:50 p.m. on July 31. We started numbering the new bleachers at 8:00 p.m., and the new lights provided illumination for the task. We were done with the numbering by 10:30 p.m. Show time was 21 hours away. The only thing left to do with the stadium on show day besides normal show preparation was backfilling a 15 foot-wide, 20 foot-deep trench in front of the main gate. That was finished by noon. The weather cooperated and the show went on that night without a hitch. The capacity crowd had a wonderful time. The various construction company officials that had rallied to get the stadium finished presented the championship trophy to the champion Blue Devils. The show staff almost collapsed from the accumulated stress of trying to get the stadium done. Today whenever any of us drive by the new Stillwater stadium, home of Drum Beauty 2004, we smile and say, "The stadium is ready for this year's show!"

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