"The main purpose of Music in Oil Country is to support camaraderie among bands from throughout our area," said Oil City Marching Band director Daniel Cartwright.
The school hosted their 10th annual(sans COVID) event on Saturday with support from ten other area high schools and special guest, the Grove City College Marching Band.
They bill Music in Oil Country as "halftime all night long." The visiting schools showcase what they perform weekly during halftime of football games, only this is a venue where all attention is on the band and not half the crowd rehashing how well or poorly the football team played in the first half.
"The thrill of stepping onto the turf and seeing a full set of bleachers in front of you and other marching bands cheering behind you never gets old," said Kevin Vinson, Titusville's music director.
The festival is really a chance to, simply, showcase the music. Yes it is still on a football field, but it's about the pride in the elfort each musician puts into the tradition of a halftime show. And they come together, not as gridiron rivals, but a larger family of musicians who love to play.
"I want students to make connections with kids from other schools who do the same activities they do. It’s not a competition, it is supporting each other, meeting new people and maybe make a few new friends," Cartwright said.
He emphasized that having these "rival" schools participate in these shows further illustrates how much a-like they are than different. Especially when you hear them cheer each others routines.
The event is a fundraiser for the Oil City band who is looking ahead to the future in need of new uniforms. "It's just brilliant," Franklin band director Steve Johnston said of Music in Oil Country. Franklin is a strong supporter of the festival happily performing each year.
"The bulk of our band funds come from Music in Oil Country," said Cartwright who credits past uniforms, the band trailer and rain gear to having this fundraiser other school bands gladly support. He is also thankful the school sports booster club recognizes their contributions and also gives. "We are currently working on our next uniform campaign," he said.
Then the bands kicked in, some small, some large, but they all drew responses from the nearly capacity crowd filling the stands. "The crowd last night was phenomenal," Cartwright said as they sat through each band's performance.
This year, besides the immense and varied talent of the high school bands, the Grove City College Marching Band, consisting of 110 member, was on hand to close out the show. Each of the high school bands surrounded the field to watch and learn from this heralded college band. More than a couple members of the Grove City band had performed on the Oil field at one time or another, either as part of the Oiler band or visiting schools at football games or playing at this very festival. And they came to support these high school bands without charging a fee.
"It’s always a bonus to have a college band perform. Having a quality group like Grove City College perform shows kids what the next level is like and marching band doesn’t stop after high school," said Cartwright.
Vinson agrees. "We enjoyed all of the bands that we were able to watch, but a highlight for my students was the Grove City College band's performance to close out the event."