DALLAS -- After a year hiatus, the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps returned to the State Fair of Texas to continue a tradition of playing for fairgoers at Marine Corps Square.
The gates opening Sept. 26 marked the 51st appearance of “The Commandant’s Own.”
“We were excited to have the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps continue its tradition at the State Fair of Texas,” said Mitchell Glieber, the fair’s president. ”The Corps has been a crowd favorite since its first performance in 1961, and we look forward to them each year entertaining fairgoers with an assortment of popular and patriotic tunes.”
The Corps celebrated its 50th year at the fair in 2012. However last year, in accordance with Department of Defense policy, all military support to non-DoD organizations for outreach activities limited military musical and ceremonial units to performances near their immediate duty stations.
“It was disappointing that we were unable to go last year which made going this year all that much more special,” Sgt. Austin Williams, a percussionist with the Drum & Bugle Corps. “Texans just love us, and it’s great to see how much respect and appreciation they have for us.”
During the fair, the Marines performed three times a day. Performances included hour-long concerts at Marine Corps Square, a retreat ceremony, and bringing the fair day to a close by leading the "Starlight Parade" -- a parade of lights and music around the Cotton Bowl, located in the center of the fair grounds.
The State Fair of Texas is the largest state fair in the country, and the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps entertained several thousand people with renditions of original works, John Philip Sousa marches, and popular music.
Not only does playing at the fair provide entertainment to the more than 3 million people who come to the fair annually, it's a good venue to recruit people into the Musician Enlistment Option Program. Ten percent of the Marines who take this option are from Texas.
Marines of “The Commandant’s Own” said they feel the impact they have on the community in Texas while they perform.
“Even though we were not able to stay at the fair for the entire duration, it was very meaningful to the Marines and to our friends and fans at the State Fair of Texas,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Alexander, soprano bugler. “Having performed at the fair for ten years, I feel like it’s a second home for me, and much of that feeling is brought on by the people that we interact with every day as we perform.”
As the Drum & Bugle Corps prepares for the upcoming Marine Corps birthday celebrations around the National Capitol Region in November, they also look forward to what the next year holds in store for the already storied and well-traveled organization.