MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA -- CEDAR FALLS, Iowa Despite a heat index well above the century mark, thousands of Sturgis Falls Festival-goers baked in the blazing sun at Overman Park Saturday, awaiting the performance of the Albany Marine Band.
A "state of the art" band shell, similar to the one used in Boston for the Boston Pops Fourth of July performances, provided the backdrop for the crowd, estimated at more than 10,000 on what turned out to be one of the warmest days of the year.
As the sun began to set, the cooling temperatures heightened the patriotic mid-west crowd's enthusiasm.
The band's performance took the crowd on a diverse musical journey. From technical, classical pieces, popular arrangements, traditional marches and a hilarious performance from the party ensemble brought the appreciative crowd to their feet many times.
Dozens of standing ovations throughout the performance, including a deafening roar from the crowd when local firefighters, emergency medical technicians and policemen marched on stage during the conclusion of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," prompted several encore selections. These included a flag-waving rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever," and the first public performance of the band's arrangements for the upcoming Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland later this summer.
Conductors during the concert were Master Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Farquhar, the bandmaster, and Staff Sgt. Christian Flores, the enlisted conductor. Many band members were featured as soloists during the performance.
Following the performance, Farquhar emphasized the non-musical side of their performance.
"It was an outstanding musical performance," Farquhar said, as he addressed the band. "It wasn't flawless musically, but it was flawless because we're Marines and gave them precisely what they expect from us. It took a lot of effort from everyone, but the results were well worth it."
This was the third consecutive year the band has performed at the festival. The band was also featured as the lead musical unit in a downtown parade Saturday.