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Canvas Stadium hosts this year’s Drums Along the Rockies

Members+of+the+Blue+Knights+Drum+%26+Bugle+Corps+performing+during+Drums+Along+the+Rockies+at+Canvas+Stadium+on+July+15.+
Collegian | Adam Carlson
Members of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps performing during Drums Along the Rockies at Canvas Stadium on July 15.

Musicians from across the country gathered at Canvas Stadium this past weekend for Drums Along the Rockies, a Drum Corps International event that hosted nine ensembles composed of dedicated musicians under the age of 22 to show off their talent.

The Blue Knights, Colorado’s very own drum corps performed — a division of Ascend Performing Arts, who is the organization behind Drums Along the Rockies. The Blue Knights’ season consisted of five weeks of spring training leading up to their tour performing and competing across the country, according to Jillian Oppegard, the director of strategic communications for Ascend Performing Arts. With some variation, most ensembles follow a similar schedule of weeks of training leading up to their tour.

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Drums Along the Rockies used to be hosted at Empower Field at Mile High. However, since the return of the event after a temporary shutdown for COVID-19, they made their return debut at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins.

“It’s the most amazing place we get to rehearse the entire summer,” said Jed Weeks, program coordinator of the Blue Knights’ Drum and Bugle Corps.

Drum corps is an activity that inspires thousands of performers each summer and is recognized by many members to be an experience that is unmatched.

Ethan Evanoff is performing this summer with the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, which is based in Tempe, Arizona. Evanoff described corps as one of the hardest things a performer can do, but he said he finds reward through all the performances and community that the activity provides.

Evanoff said the crowd in Canvas Stadium was the biggest he had seen so far and that being in a full-sized stadium as opposed to a high school felt exciting and rejuvenating.

“What we do is the NBA or NFL (equivalent) of band, but people don’t know it like that,” Evanoff said.

Part of what makes this activity special to many members is its fleeting nature. Members cannot perform if they are above the age of 21 after a certain cutoff date. This rule is considered on behalf of performing members, as the activity is highly physical and can take a toll on the body. It also allows new members to always feed in each year. Participants like Evanoff will not get the opportunity to perform again, which is one reason why Drums Along the Rockies is so impactful.

With this activity taking place across the nation, Drums Along the Rockies acts as a home show to more people than just the Blue Knights. Audrey Jensen is marching with Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps this summer but is originally from Colorado Springs. Jensen said this is the first time she gets to see her family since she moved in with Troopers.

The timespan — often nearing two months of not seeing friends and family — makes Drums Along the Rockies special. For many, this is the only time their loved ones will see the show in person, bringing a special energy to the entirety of the night.

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Drums Along the Rockies is an event that brings together a community to show off their work after months of rigorous rehearsals with the purpose of bonding people and nourishing the soul through music and performance, according to Louie Lugo, an instructor for the Blue Knights.

The conclusion of the night presented a very excited tone, as members between corps met with friends and family before resuming their tour, leading up to the Drum Corps International championship in August.

Reach Adam Carlson at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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