PENDLETON — This year’s Madison County Jazz Festival was the biggest yet, with 35 bands participating, and more than 1,000 visitors during the day and between 600 and 700 attendees at an evening concert.

“It’s definitely growing,” Pendleton Heights High School band director Chris Taylor said. “It fluctuates, but this was our largest ever. Some of the bands were bigger and brought more people.”

The Pendleton Heights High School music department played host to the 12th annual event Saturday, Feb. 11. Thirty-five high school and middle school jazz groups — including ones from Pendleton and Lapel — performed, Taylor said.

Performances began 8 a.m. and took place throughout the day; there also were clinics for certain bands and players of specific instruments.

The University of Indianapolis band started the evening show; a school honor band comprised of musicians from 10 area schools and the Director’s Jazz Orchestra also performed.

Trumpet player Mark Pender, known for his many years of performing on comedian Conan O’Brien’s shows, was the evening’s guest artist.

“This guy was just absolutely phenomenal,” Taylor said.

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Scott Slade is community editor. He can be reached at 317-477-3229 or