BRADENTON -- For many band members it was a bitter sweet experience as they marched off the field from their final Florida Bandmasters Association marching band competition.
"I love that feeling when you march off, it's my favorite part," said Manatee High band captain Logan Rossi. "You know you left your best on the field, you're proud of that, you're proud of the job you did, and that's when all the hours of practice are worth it."
Hundreds came out to Hawkins Stadium for the Florida Bandmasters Association District 11 marching band performance assesment Saturday evening.
More than 15 bands and 1,400 performers from Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Hardee and Hillsborough counties were featured in the annual event. Local schools featured were Southeast, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch and Manatee High. All four scored a "superior" rating out of five possible ratings: superior, excellent, good, average and poor.
Rossi, 18, like many of those performing on Saturday, is in his senior year and was competing in this annual ritual for the final time.
"I won't miss all the hours of practice," Rossi said. "I will miss the amazing people in the band and that incredible feeling you get when you walk off the field at FBA."
Rossi, who plays the trombone, enjoys seeing all the bands come together.
"This is the best we are going to be and the best everybody is going to be," Rossi said.
Hawkins Stadium was filled with family, friends and other spectators who came out to see all the performances Saturday.
"It draws a lot of people that enjoy watching the halftime shows," Manatee High assistant band director Linda Boone said. "They don't have to watch a whole football game, and they can also see all the bands at once."
Nick McConnaughey, 17, was enjoying the show as he prepared to perform for the final time at the annual performance.
"I like the anticipation once it's all over," McConnaughey said.
The Lakewood Ranch High School senior, who plays the marimba, has performed all four of his high school years and says he will miss his band members as he prepares to go to college.
"These are basically all my best friends," McConnaughey said. "I
have known most of them for five or six years."
Lakewood Ranch High's band director was very proud as he watched his group warm up.
"They worked very hard," Ron Lambert said. "This is the one time a year they get to perform together."
It's also a chance for all the band directors to come together, Lambert said.
For Southeast senior Daniel Hodges, his favorite part of the event is the whole thing, he said.
"The music and the joy putting it on the field for people to see," Hodges said.
When he marched off the field on Saturday, Hodges said he felt amazing.
"Because I know it was my best show," he said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.