INDIANAPOLIS — The Lapel Bulldog marching band took to the track Saturday, Aug. 5, in the Indiana State Fair Band Day competition before a packed grandstand at the state fairgrounds.

The band placed 43rd in the competition and did not advance to the evening finals, but given the challenges faced by the program this summer, it might be a wonder the band was able to compete at all.

The departure of Andrew Steck earlier in the year left a vacancy at the helm of the program. But, after 11 years at Yorktown and one school year at Frankton, Chris Glover took over as band director at Lapel, installed a show titled “Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen,” and guided the band onto the track to entertain the throngs of fairgoers.

He said it would not have been possible without the hard work of the students over the summer.

“They started later than about everyone else, the middle of June,” Glover said. “They worked really hard putting this whole thing together and staying focused.”

The sudden change of band director was not the only challenge faced by the band this summer, but Glover said the students persevered through it all.

“Well, our parking lot where we practice was resurfaced,” he said. “That threw us off. There were some floors that needed waxed, there were just some of those things you deal with, normal school stuff. And we had a lot of rain this summer. But they kept working really hard; these kids love their band.”

“I just love the cape,” senior trumpet player Abbie McClure said, referring to the Lapel uniform as she walked off the track for the final time.

The Bulldogs continued their traditional exit of the track as they marched off doing their legendary “funky chicken” to the delight of the crowd. For McClure, entertaining the crowd has always been the goal of the band.

“Tradition is a huge part of what we do as a band,” she said. “It’s always a big thing. This is our 48th year here, and every single year, we do the funky chicken and the crowd loves it. We’re a band that is all about pleasing the crowd and playing the music we want to play, not about winning it all.”

“Yeah, we couldn’t not do that,” Glover said of the funky chicken. “They had fun with that, and I learned it this summer, too. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.”

With uncertainty surrounding the band early in the summer, Glover said he wanted to pull back in students who were uncertain about sticking with the program.

That led to his selection of the popular Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the music for this year’s show.

“There were only 19 (students), and we were able to pull some more and make it a 30-member group,” he said. “I wanted to pick something that they would have a lot of fun with and would be an entertaining show.”

Glover said he was happy with the way the students executed the show, which included a bright tie-dyed background behind the band as it performed.

“I think they did great,” he said. “They really put it out there — it was their best performance of the summer.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of my favorite songs,” McClure said. “It’s so complex, but so simple at the same time.”

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Rob Hunt covers news, sports and other happenings in South Madison County. He can be reached at rhunt@pendletontimespost.com or (765) 778-2324.