Maple Leaf Marching Band Festival Fast Facts

History: Started in the late 1960s as a marching band competition

What’s in a Name: Titled the ‘Maple Leaf Festival’ with Mother Nature’s array of glorious fall colors

Carthage, Missouri, rolls out the red carpet: 80,000-plus visitors are welcomed to this Southwest Missouri town for a wonderful fall celebration


Preliminary awards for each of the four classes of bands as follows…

-Best Horn Line caption

-Best Percussion caption

-Best Auxiliary caption

-Best Drum Major caption

Placement trophies are given to the 1st through 3rd place bands and the captions


Finals awards consist of the following…

-1st-8th place trophies

-Best Auxiliary

-Best Drum Major

-Best Horn Line

-Best Percussion

-Sweepstakes Trophy (Highest-scoring Parade/Prelim Band)


‘Banding’ Together from the Four-State Region for the 53rd Annual Maple Leaf Band Festival


A terrific ensemble of magnificent music will resonate throughout the crisp, early fall air later this month when the 53rd annual Maple Leaf Band Festival takes center stage once again at David Haffner Stadium in Carthage, Missouri, Saturday, October 20.

According to Carthage High School band director Jennifer Sager, “The festival starts at 12:30 pm this year due to having a full schedule of bands and will end around 10:30 pm, after the final awards ceremony.

“We have high school bands come from across the Four-State Area, including Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. We have 22 bands registered at this time (early September), however our deadline for registration has not passed yet. I expect we will be full with 23 total bands.”

In speaking about the primary purpose for this day-long procession of marvelous musical performances, Sager says, “The ultimate goal for our marching festival and for marching arts in general is to provide a place where area bands come to maximize the potential of their groups and show the community what they’ve been given.

“Throughout the process of each band learning a new field show each year, students learn things that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, such as teamwork, dedication and persistence.”

Of course, it’s a competition, so these schools will be giving it their all. Sager says, “The bands are judged on their overall ensemble performance of their music and their visual performance, including marching and maneuvering, as well as their visual effect as an ensemble.

“Each band is also adjudicated by a percussion judge, as well as auxiliary judge for those sections. Typically, each band has their own theme with four songs/movements. Each band has 15 minutes to get on the field, perform and get off the field.”

Sager is thrilled to be a part of this annual extravaganza and says, “The history of this marching festival is what makes me most proud to be part of it.

“The fact that a Carthage marching band started this 53 years ago and the community got involved the next year with a parade going to the festival, and how much the entire Maple Leaf Festival has grown over the years is really amazing.

“I am most proud to have Carthage host this festival because it’s the longest-running festival in the area and a way to bring thousands of students and spectators to our wonderful community.”

In providing a passionate perspective, Sager shares her reasoning as to why this is a great attraction well worth anyone’s while to attend: “Anyone who has been a part of band knows the benefit of a marching festival and just being in band.

“Those who have not been a band member can come out and see what a community of students and educators work hard for to prepare for the enjoyment of themselves and the spectators.

“Members of these bands are not only a class in school, but they become family. It’s not just a family from one school. These students become close to other students throughout the area that are in band.

“Band is not just learning how to make a sound on an instrument or reading notes on a page. Band teaches life-long skills, friendship, hard work and commitment.”

What better way to show off the talents of such musically gifted young people as they provide a close-up look at how hard work does pay off with beautifully orchestrated sounds as those outstanding musicians march in unison to beats that have been masterfully arranged?

Indeed, it will be a festive fall day in Carthage.