Everyone attending the RenFest on November 18th and 19th can see and hear the Battle of the Bayou bagpipe and drum competition; Only competitors need to register, at least a month before the competition.
Bagpipers and Drummers should register to compete in the "BATTLE OF THE BAYOU," sanctioned by EUSPBA. Anyone interested in competing please send in a completed application.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 17, 18, and 19, 2017
* Friday 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM: visit the competition site in the afternoon
- No admission charge for competitors
- Just come out and see where you will be competing
- Play your pipes a bit to get them acclimated to the weather/altitude/humidity
- talk to the organizers and offer suggestions on how to make this even better
* Friday 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Evening reception at the Gnarly Barley Brewery
- No admission charge - Pizza and soft drinks for competitors and their guest (please RSVP)
- Really good beer available at the cash bar
- kids under 18 are welcome
* Saturday 8:00 AM
- Until: competitions in all Piping and Drumming grades and events
* Saturday 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM: workshops to go over your scoresheets.
* Sunday ANOTHER SANCTIONED COMPETITION in your events
- A smaller number of events, but also sanctioned
- you'll have a chance to work on your mistakes and come play your tunes again!
For more information and more details visit http://www.battleofthebayou.com
We've grown from 19 competitors in 2012 (our first year) to 38 competitors in 2016!
A third piping judge may be added for the 2017 competition, depending upon the number of pipers who register. It helps us plan the event if you get your entries in early.
Facebook Event also has information and welcomes questions.
In the midst of the usual fantasy and revelry of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival this November, bagpipers and drummers will travel from surrounding states to partake in something a little more serious: competition.
On Nov. 18-19, LARF’s Celtic Weekend, competitors will gather for the Battle of the Bayou, an event sanctioned by the Eastern United Pipe Band Association. They’ll play for judges for feedback, medals, trophies and, perhaps the most important, points that can help them advance in ranking.
In addition, pipers and drummers who are not part of the competition circuit can sign up to “play for sheets” – in other words, to get helpful advice and comments from the judges, without worrying about winning or losing.
This pairing of a Renaissance festival and a sanctioned bagpipe competition is unusual, if not singular. A renfest is known for frivolity, fantasy and living history; while pipe and drum competitions are serious undertakings in modern, often military-based, clothing. Most such competitions are either stand-alone, or part of Scottish Highland games.
But Alvon Brumfield, a LARF founder, decided that crossing those traditional boundaries could help support and strengthen Celtic culture in a region where pipe bands struggle to thrive. He approached Steve Brownlee, a competing piper who has performed at LARF since it opened in 2000, about organizing a competition.
Today, they are preparing for the fourth year of the competition, now called Battle of the Bayou: A Bagpipe and Drum Tournament Weekend. Starting in 2013 with 20 competitors from four states, the event last year attracted 39 competitors from six states. This year promises to be even bigger, Brownlee says.
“I’ve been to three competitions so far this year – in Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas,” Brownlee says. “And people are talking about it. They’re excited about it!”
One reason for the excitement, he says, is that sanctioned competitions are often hard to find in this region – a problem for competitors who are trying to advance. When the LARF competition started, it and the Red Stick Regional in Baton Rouge were the only two sanctioned competitions in Louisiana. For this year, only Battle of the Bayou remains. And, as an additional benefit, the weekend offers two separate sanctioned competitions – one on Saturday, and one on Sunday.
“Judges will hold a workshop after Saturday’s competition, giving pipers and drummers a chance to work on their weak points,” Brownlee explained. “And then, they can compete again on Sunday! This gives them a chance to play again while the judges’ suggestions are fresh in their minds, and have a second chance to earn points on the same weekend.”
But the nature of the venue is also a big draw, Brownlee says. Competitors have a chance to relax with each other and the judges at a Friday night reception at Gnarly Barley Brewery in Hammond. And, on competition days, the light-hearted atmosphere of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival takes a lot of the stress off of competing.
“Even though the competition is serious, I hear so many people describe it as fun,” he said. “One man came last year with his bagpiper daughter – he told me he had so much fun that he’s coming back this year with his entire family!”
In addition, the top piper and drummer are awarded trophies unique to LARF – last year and this year, the trophies were hand-made by glassblower Mark Haller, who has a booth and demonstration at the festival every weekend.
But it’s not just the pipers and drummers who are benefiting. From the beginning, Brumfield and Brownlee worked together to make sure the competition enhances the Renaissance festival. Competitors are encouraged to wear period clothing; judges’ tables are positioned near the lanes, so patrons can stop and listen, and even talk to the participants when they are not playing. Villagers are at each table, available for questions, helping judges, and making sure the performances aren’t interrupted by curious passers-by.
Even the judges are chosen for their willingness to answer questions and explain the music to those nearby. Bagpipe and drum judges are selected from the top ranks of players, and go through extensive training. This year, Battle of the Bayou has scheduled three judges: Jim Nisbet of Apopka, Fla.; and Patrick Regan of Pittsburgh, Pa.; will judge pipers; and Ed Best of Yucaipa, Ca., will judge drummers. A third piping judge may be added, depending upon the number of pipers who register.
“I’ve always believed that education and fun can go hand-in-hand,” says Brumfield. “This competition is no different – pipers and drummers get the competition venue they need, and patrons have a chance to find out more about this style of music and its history – all while getting an extra dose of bagpiping!”
For more information about the Battle of the Bayou tournament weekend, as well as registration forms, visit www.battleofthebayou.com. You can also contact Brownlee at email@example.com or at 504-214-3965.
Photos Courtesy of River Images