Big Sioux Review to go on with slight tweaks

Jill Meier, Journal editor
Jill Meier/BV Journal 
The Big Sioux Review will go on as planned, but with some tweaks this year. The Marching Lynx will perform in exhibition at 10:15 p.m.
The 21st annual Big Sioux Review in Brandon on Sept. 26 will be like no other Big Sioux Review that’s come before it.
And once again, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic that’s constituting the change.
Despite the change in how the Big Sioux Review will run this year, Laura Schenk, sixth-grade band director at Brandon Valley Intermediate School and chairwoman of the Big Sioux Review, said they’ve found a way for the show to go on. 
Sixteen bands from South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota – up one from last year – will perform in blocks with three bands assigned to each block. 
“If you’re in block A, you’ll have red wristbands. If you’re in block B, you’ll have green wristbands, for example,” Schenk said. “Everybody will get to watch their band but they won’t get to stay for the entire evening. That way we can get spectators in and back out so our stands will never get too crowded.”
There will be a 30-minute break between blocks for sanitization. Schenk said “touch points” such as railings, will be sanitized.
“We’re not going through the bleachers … but we’ll make sure things get sprayed down good before the next group comes in,” she said.
Another change to this year’s Big Sioux Review is there will be no ticket sales at the gate. Instead, each band student from the participating schools have been allotted up to four passes, following suit with the four-pass program in place at BV for student-athletes involved in a fall sport. Directors from each band hasve requested a specific number of passes that have been pre-purchased. In turn, BV issued color-coded wristbands for the corresponding block their band will perform in.
“With us knowing the ticket numbers ahead of time, we can make the blocks relatively small,” Schenk said.
A band from each of the three divisions – AA, A and B – will compete in each block.
“We’ve matched up a big (size) school, a medium and a small school so we will have the possible lowest number of tickets in each block. I think that’s also good for the spectators, because they’ll get to see a small band, a medium band and a large band perform. So, they will get to see a variety and they will get to see their child perform, though they won’t get to see the entire gamut,” she said. 
Participating bands from South Dakota this year are Aberdeen Central, O’Gorman, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Washington and Lincoln, Mitchell, West Central, Brookings, and Harrisburg. Minnesota bands that will compete are Pipestone and Luverne. The Iowa programs include Orange City, Sibley-Ocheyedan, West Lyon and Sioux Center.
As always, the Marching Lynx will be the final band of the night to perform in exhibition at 10:15 p.m.
“All four Sioux Falls high schools will be here this year, and this is the first time we’ve had all four Sioux Falls schools because they typically try to split and not all go to the same festivals,” Schenk said.
Schenk said COVID has presented obvious challenges in organizing the Big Sioux Review this year.
“It’s been a logistical challenge, like just kind of thinking outside of the box on these things. We still want to find a way to have spectators, and so, early on Tyler Nettestad, who is our high school band director, Randy Marso and I sat down and were like ‘Alright, what can we do to make this happen?’ I was thankful that he (Marso) had the idea of the tickets like they are doing with high school sports, and so then it snowballed from there of being able to give kids from the other schools tickets and how to arrange it in blocks so that parents of children can see other schools perform. I know it’s not going to look normal. We’re not going to have concessions and all the things you can think of when you go to the stadium,” she said.
One noticeable improvement to the event is attributed to the new $460,000 video scoreboard made possible by the BV Booster Club and its corporate sponsors. Schenk said they will be utilizing the video board this year to recognize their sponsors.
“Typically, we have a really nice published program and we have sponsors of the bands that are all in that. This year, we’ve cut that program. Number one, that has to be printed early on and we didn’t know if this was going to happen, so we didn’t want to put the expense in if it wasn’t going to happen, and B, it’s just one more thing to transfer potential germs, so we decided to forgo the program this year. Instead, we’ll be using the video screen and will have all of the sponsors on that beautiful video screen. They will still be recognized in a way that we hope is meaningful, just in a different way.”
This event and the Band Turkey Supper, usually staged in April, are the band program’s two main fundraisers. COVID cancelled the Turkey Supper this past spring.
“We’re not going to make as much as we would in a normal year,” Schenk said. “We know that but we still wanted to have some sort of educational event for the kids.”
The Big Sioux Review is one of the few band festivals that is being held this year, and one of even fewer that parents can come to watch their child’s band perform.
“Short of going all the way to Orange City, there’s nothing else in this area. This is the only one, and for schools such as Aberdeen, this is much closer for them. I’m excited that they still get to have some way to perform because these kids have put in just as much work as any other year, so getting to show it off is really important,” Schenk said. 
No awards will be presented at this year’s Big Sioux Review. But Schenk said that’s the least of everyone’s concerns.
“It’s always nice to have the recognition at the end of the night, but I don’t think any of the kids wouldn’t do it because they’re not going to get a trophy. I don’t think that’s the reason that we do it. Yeah, it takes a little shine off the end of the night, but I just think in a year like what we’re having and so many things being cancelled, being able to do anything is still worth it,” she said.


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