Summer Music Games to celebrate 20th anniversary

Summer Music Games in Cincinnati will celebrate its 20th anniversary on June 22 as the annual event makes a move to Virgil Schwarm Stadium at Hamilton High School. The event, a major fundraiser for Fairfield’s band boosters, is expected to raise around $25,000 this year.

“I enjoy the behind the scenes part of hosting a major Drum Corps International (DCI) competition. Most people only know it for the 14-minute performances on the field,” said Bruce Brown, the Summer Music Games contest director who has been directing the competition with his wife, Sara, for 20 years.

Each summer, there are a countless number of behind-the-scenes details and logistics that take place, including housing 1,200 drum corps members, putting 3,641 labels on the bleachers at Virgil Schwarm Stadium, ordering concession items, promotions, ticket sales and more, he said.

The Summer Music Games competition showcases a handful of world-class drum and bugle corps.

“We have eight corps from across the country coming, and we have a fantastic line-up. This is going to be a huge draw for the fans to come and see. The Bluecoats from Canton, Ohio, one of our headlining corps, were the number two group in the world last year at the DCI World Championships. Carolina Crown from Fort Mill, South Carolina were the world champions two years ago, so we’re excited,” Brown said.

Other 150-member corps competing include Cincinnati Tradition (Cincinnati, OH,) Blue Stars (La Crosse, WI,) Boston Crusaders (Boston, MA,) Madison Scouts (Madison, WI,) Troopers (Casper, WY) and Spirit of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA.) Each group will be judged in eight different categories, and will be striving for a perfect score of a 100.

One highlight will include a performance of the National Anthem at 7:05 p.m. by the Fairfield High School Marching Band. With 239 members, this will be the marching band’s first performance of the 2015-2016 season.

According to Brown, after 15 years of hosting the drum corps show at Fairfield Stadium, a renovation project has forced the Summer Music Games in Cincinnati to be moved to Schwarm.

“The design of the new stadium did not have enough seats to allow us to accommodate the large crowds that we have for our show. The seating capacity is only going to be about 2,200 and we need the 3,859 seating capacity that it used to have,” Brown said.

In searching for a new facility, Brown said, the principal at Hamilton reached out to us, and offered Hamilton’s stadium as an option for Fairfield to use.

“In January, we toured the facility. I met with their athletic department and the music boosters. Then come to find out, they are also running a show,” Brown said.

He said there will be two DCI events held in Southwest Ohio this summer at the same venue. Hamilton High School Marching band will debut its own DCI show, “Hamilton Drum Corps Classic 2015,” which will be held on July 25 at 7 p.m. at Virgil Schwarm Stadium. For information on Hamilton’s event, go to There will be 103 events held across the country, which will culminate in August with the world championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (

“We are going to make Virgil Schwarm Stadium the drum corps capital of the Cincinnati area. We have fans coming from Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, New York and Tennessee, among others. The competition also has a big local draw,” Brown said.

This is not the first time for a venue change, he said. Early on, Fairfield’s show was called the “Queen City Classic,” and it was held at Galbreath Field. In 1996, the name was changed to the “Summer Music Games in Cincinnati” and the show moved to University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. In 2000, the competition moved to Fairfield Stadium, where it has been held for the past 15 years.

“I’m excited, because when I was actually in the activity, I marched in the show when it was down at Nippert Stadium,” said Darren Ling, Fairfield High School’s band director.

Monies raised will be used for music, uniforms, instruments and color guard equipment, he said.

“This is marching music’s major league. These are world-class drum and bugle corps. We have five of the top 12 in the world coming to our show,” Ling said.

“I am also excited for our students to see the level of performance, and I’m thrilled these groups are coming to our community. It’s really powerful. It’s a sight and sound experience,” he said.

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