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Thousands of marching band musicians return to the football pitch to compete after a year of hiatus

Nearly 5,000 high school and college students performed at the 2021 Youth In Music Championships at US Bank Stadium on Saturday.

MINNEAPOLIS – Will Pelley doesn’t play traditional sports, but the Washington High School junior in Sioux Falls takes marching band competitions just as seriously as any football game.

“When I go out, my heart starts to beat,” Pelley said.

On Saturday, Pelley was among thousands of students competing in the Youth In Music Championships, the country’s largest brass band competition. Thirty-two high school groups and two college groups from Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska performed on the field in front of a crowd of parents and supporters.

It’s a long-awaited experience after a year lost to COVID-19. Pelley’s group made the four-hour trip from South Dakota to get there.

“It’s great to be back on the pitch with my family,” said Pelley. “I love these guys. Being able to perform and get that habit back in my bones is pretty cool.”

RELATED: Youth Music Band Championship Heads To US Bank Stadium

Youth in Music president Brent Turner said the stadium was filled with “elation.”

“It gives me goosebumps to be back here, it puts me in an emotional space because for the kids it’s their World Series,” said Turner. “It’s their Super Bowl, and that’s why we’re at US Bank Stadium to give them that experience.”

Turner says big competitions like this are a big change of pace from the usual student venues: high school football games.

“We always have this joke that football is between our preliminaries and halftime of our performance in football games, “Turner said.” We’re front and center here. “

RELATED: Minnesota State Champion Gymnast’s Family Gets COVID, Community Moves Around Them

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