Bourbon County

Bourbon County band wins Grand Nationals

For the second year in a row, the Bourbon County High School marching band has been named Class A champion at the Bands of America Grand Nationals competition in Indianapolis, considered the most prestigious marching band championship in the nation.

Bourbon County's win Saturday comes a week after the Paris school captured the Class AAA title at the Kentucky Music Educators Association championship.

Last year, Bourbon County placed 30th out of all the bands at the Bands of America Grand Nationals competition.

"This year we made it into the top 22 bands in the semi-finals," said Eric Hale, who is the band's director along with his wife, Nadine. Kevin Akers is an assistant band director for Bourbon County. The back-to-back top titles for two straight years has kept the band hungry for more, Hale said.

"We don't live in the past," Hale said. "We don't compare one year to the next year."

As the small-class winner at Grand Nationals, the band was to perform in exhibition at the finals competition, Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

It was an experience that the almost 80-member Bourbon County High School band will remember for some time.

"It's just awesome," Hale said. "There are probably 25,000 people here tonight."

Twelve bands from across the country were to compete for the overall championship; none of the finalist bands was from Kentucky.

Bourbon County was one of 91 bands that started the preliminary competition Thursday. It and three other Kentucky bands — Lafayette High School, Williamstown Independent High School and North Hardin High School — advanced to the semifinal round Saturday, but none went further in the contest, which is generally dominated by large bands from Indiana and Texas.

But Hale said late Saturday night that Lafeyette, Williamstown and North Hardin schools placed second in their respective divisions.

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