The Bourbon County High School band never planned to go to the Bands of America championships on Saturday. Money was just going to be too tight, the band decided.
But after placing first in the Kentucky Music Educators Association Class 3A championship Nov. 1, the marching band decided last week to pack up and head to Indianapolis.
It was definitely worth the trip.
The Bourbon County band took home the top honors for Class A — the smallest division — at the annual national band championship Saturday. That's two big wins this season for the 80-member group, which has competed against some bands with twice as many members.
The band beat about 30 others from across the country to take the title.
"We're just really proud of them," said Travis Huber, principal of Bourbon County High School.
Avon High School Marching Band from Avon, Ind., was named grand national champion.
The competition began Thursday and culminated with the championships Saturday. Bourbon County made it past the preliminaries on Friday and was one of four bands to make it to the semi-finals Saturday, said Eric Hale, who is the band director along with his wife, Nadine. The Hales also get help from Kevin Akers, an assistant band director.
Last year, the band placed third in the competition as Adair County High School, a longtime band powerhouse, took top honors in the division. Three years ago, Bourbon failed to make the semifinals.
"We've definitely shown steady improvement," Hale said.
More than a dozen other Kentucky high school bands participated in the Bands of America contest. The only other school to place besides Bourbon County was Beechwood High School near Fort Mitchell, which placed third in the Class A division.