Drum Corps Midwest executive director Roman Blenski remembers the time when the Phantom Regiment and the Madison Scouts ended up with a tie score. The judges then decided that the two corps should march their entire shows again to break the tie, and the crowd went bonkers."It was electrifying. Both corps gave tremendous performances. That was one of our finest moments," Blenski said, although he doesn't remember the year that tie happened or who eventually won that particular duel. Drum Corps Midwest has been supplying unforgettable memories like that one for 25 years, and Blenski has been around for most of them. Back in 1978, Blenski was the vice chairman of the organization. He quickly ascended to the executive director position, and has been there ever since. Blenski and the organization will celebrate this anniversary by hosting the annual Drum Corps Midwest Championships in DeKalb, Ill., this coming weekend.Drum Corps Midwest was formed as part of a Drum Corps International plan to split North America into six geographical regions (Midwest, East, Canada, Great Plains, West and South), to streamline the organizational process. "It's been a win-win situation for us," said Greg Orwoll, director of the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa, and also the chairman of Drum Corps Midwest. "We do a lot of great things for the corps in the Midwest, and the Colts are really glad to be a part of (Drum Corps Midwest)," Orwoll said. Orwoll is in his ninth year as Drum Corps Midwest chairman.On Oct. 15, 1977, representatives from 15 corps from around the Midwest met in Madison, Wis., to elect officers and plan for Drum Corps Midwest's future. In 1994, the organization's biggest year, Drum Corps Midwest was made up of 34 corps, and 1,862 total members marched. Each corps averaged 55 members back then. Now, 25 corps belong to Drum Corps Midwest."We're the regional arm of Drum Corps International -- an independent entity, but we're tied to DCI without any doubt," Blenski explained. The first Drum Corps Midwest show ever was held on June 3, 1978 at Boylan Field in Rockford, Ill. Blenski, who also runs Milwaukee's Pioneer corps, says that the Guardsmen, Phantom Regiment, Pioneer, Emerald Knights and Capital Airs participated in that event, among others. Blenski also says that the prominent national parades that Drum Corps Midwest sent "all-star" corps to in the 1980s and early 1990s were also a big highlight. For those events, each of the 30 Drum Corps Midwest corps would send several representatives to an "all-star" corps that would then march in a famed parade. These parades included the Orange Bowl parade, the Fiesta Bowl parade, the Citrus Bowl parade and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. "The best memories have come out of the all-star trips," Blenski said."It is going to be a great 25th anniversary championship this year for Drum Corps Midwest. The corps are stronger than ever," said Drum CorpsInternational Executive Director Dan Acheson.
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