Thousands of students will be in Washington this Saturday to compete in the 44th annual Washington Marching Band Festival.
The festival, sponsored by Washington High School, will again feature a parade and field competition with 2,100 students from 35 schools participating.
WHS Band Director Troy Bunkley said the festival is slightly smaller this year. He noted there are nine other band festivals in Missouri Saturday.
“We’re about two (schools) less in the parade competition and about four less in the field contest,” Bunkley told The Missourian. “We’ll see how it goes this year and if we are still down in the future we may do some things differently like adding a preliminary final in the field competition, which is becoming a popular format.”
Bunkley noted there are more bands from the surrounding area participating than in the past which he expects will boost the crowd.
“We always get a good crowd, but we may have even more spectators which is great,” he said. “We always hope to fill the bleachers for the field contest.”
Bunkley said students are “fired up” and volunteers, which number in the hundreds, also are ready to go.
“A lot of parents help us out, and also many in the community. Volunteers help with everything from parking buses, serving hot chocolate and coffee, putting up the fences and signs, all of the behind the scenes stuff to get this event off the ground,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Bunkley said the cooler temps in the forecast are a good thing, but he doesn’t want any rain.
“We need good weather and happy people,” he said.
The parade through Downtown Washington will begin at 8:30 a.m. The field competition will be held at Rauch Field on the WHS campus beginning at noon.
There will be an admission charge for the field competition and award ceremonies. Admission will be $5 for ages 6 and older. Seniors 65 and up, as well as children under 6 will be admitted free of charge.
Programs will be available for purchase for $3 at both the parade and field competitions.
Spectators to this year’s festival are reminded that no parking will be allowed along the shoulders of Highway 47. Spectators will have to park along 14th Street or use the parking available at the shuttle parking lot being provided for this competition.
Shuttles will be used to transfer spectators from parking at the Mercy Medical Building Parking Garage. These shuttles will take passengers to and from the Washington High School campus only. The shuttles will not provide transportation to or from the parade route.
The shuttles will run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The parade will begin at Main and Cedar streets and proceed east on Main to Jefferson Street, then turns south on Jefferson to Eighth Street, and terminates on Eighth at Sunnyside.
The bands will require the full width of the street, so parking restrictions will apply along the route from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. or the end of the parade.
There will be 21 bands in the parade competition, plus Washington High School. As the host band, WHS will not be judged.
Area bands competing include St. Francis Borgia Regional Elementary Band in the junior high division; and St. Francis Borgia Regional, New Haven, Hermann, Bourbon, Cuba, Sullivan and Steelville high schools
Blue Jay Drive and both the high school and middle school campuses will be closed from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. or the end of the festival.
There will be three judging locations for the parade. The first will be located at the intersection of Main and Oak streets, the second at Jefferson and Third streets, and the final judging location on Eighth Street in front of the First Assembly of God Church.
The field competition will feature 18 bands in three classes. Classes are determined by the enrollment of the school in grades nine through 12.
The bands will be evaluated by six judges. These scores will be used to determine the placement of each band in its class.
Area bands competing in the field event include St. Francis Borgia Regional, Union, Sullivan, Warrenton, Hermann and Owensville high schools.
The field competition will conclude with an exhibition performance by the Marching Blue Jays and the final awards presentation at approximately 5:30 p.m.