Prior to last year's Drum Corps International Tour, corps directors of the Divisions II & III banded together to chart a course for the future of what then became known as DCI's Open Class. Focused from the onset of creating ways to expand the marketability of the Open Class and to offer better experiences to the participating corps and their members, now, one year into the creation of the new division, the corps are again looking forward to the coming season with anticipation. Kicking off the '09 DCI Tour at the end of June, Open Class corps will make their way to Indiana in early August for the annual Drum Corps International World Championships. Their Quarterfinals event will once again be held in Michigan City, Ind. (Aug. 4), and will serve as the official kickoff to the week-long series of World Championship events. In 2008, the Michigan City community rolled out the red carpet for the Open Class groups including a special opening ceremony and other celebrations. "Michigan City was one of the best sites to hold the Quarterfinals that we've had in many years," said Open Class coordinator David Eddleman. "There were plenty of housing sites for the corps and lots of practice fields. It was an extremely positive experience for those involved, and everyone is greatly looking forward to competing there again before the Open Class Semifinals and Finals take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis later that week."
Attendance at last August's Open Class championship events in Bloomington, Ind., was above that of recent years. More than 3,000 fans showed up for the Semifinals and more than 3,500 for the Finals. Eddleman attributes some of this success to the inclusion of those two events as part of DCI's World Championship FANtastic Five ticket packages. In 2009, the Open Class will welcome two new touring corps; City Sound of Los Angeles and Music City of Nashville, Tenn. Making a fresh start as an Open Class corps after a two-year hiatus from World Class competition will be the Capital Regiment of Columbus, Ohio. In preparation for the coming summer, directors discussed several new initiatives and ideas to continue to expand the development of Open Class corps during a January advisory committee meeting. According to Eddleman, "We're trying to generate more audience interest in coming to see these corps' performances. We don't want to just be focused on the status quo, and because of that audiences will hopefully be enjoying some new and creative ideas resulting from our continued discussions." In order to further develop this goal, among other initiatives, a mission statement defining the purpose and vision for the Open Class has been discussed by directors. A strategic planning committee will use this mission statement to begin to develop plans for the future direction of the Open Class. In personnel news, John Turner has been re-elected to another term as Open Class judge administrator and Tim Bartholomew was re-elected to a one-year term as Open Class judge liaison. Vicki Schaffer (Colt Cadets) and Rob Lowery (Mystikal) were re-elected to the Open Class Advisory Committee, and Ibe Sodawalla (Legends) was elected to serve his first term on the Open Class advisory committee. Schaffer has been re-elected chair of the committee and Tom Maiello (Raiders) has been elected vice chair.
The Vanguard Cadets perform at the '08 Open Class Quarterfinals in Michigan City.