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The 51st annual Gene Hunt Washington Marching Band Festival will take place this Saturday, featuring both parade and field competitions.

As the host to 33 schools, the Washington High School Marching Blue Jays will give exhibition performances in both events, but is not eligible for awards.

The parade will begin at 8:30 a.m. The Blue Jays will be the last entry.

The parade will begin at Main and Cedar streets. It will continue on Main Street, turn on Jefferson Street to Eighth Street and end at Sunnyside.

The Marching Blue Jays will perform again on the field at Scanlan Stadium at approximately 9 p.m.

A total of 33 schools and about 2,500 students will compete between the two events, according to Ryan Lovell, Washington High School band director.

“We have a total of 16 parade bands this year, which is down a little from last year,” he said. “However, we are up in field competition entries this year with 22 bands.”

Lovell said he’s pleased the number of field entries is up.

“Every school has turf now, so every school can host a festival,” he said. “We are happy that schools are choosing the Washington festival.”

Lovell said there are no major changes with this year’s festival except for the name. Last year, at the conclusion of the event, the festival was dedicated to Gene Hunt, event founder and former band director. The name change also was announced.

Gearing up and staging the festival takes a lot of manpower each year, Lovell said, noting about 250 volunteers, including many band members’ parents, will be out in force to help Saturday.

“We have a great group of core parents who have worked very hard to make this festival a great one,” he said. “We’re excited and will be ready to go. This is always the band members’ favorite contest of the year. Our festival always has an energy about it, especially when they perform in exhibition on the field.”

Lovell also said he’s excited about the forecast which calls for cooler temps and no rain.

Parade

Area schools competing in the parade competition include St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, New Haven High School and Sullivan High School. Borgia and Sullivan also will compete in the field competition.

The parade awards will be announced at 1:45 p.m. during the field competition.

Lovell said the bands will require the full width of the street, so parking restrictions will apply along the route Saturday from 7:30 until about 11 a.m. or the end of the parade.

Field Competition

The field competition will get underway at 11:30 a.m. Prelim awards will be announced for all classes at 5:15 p.m.

The top 10 finalists will then perform beginning at 6:30 p.m. and continue every 15 minutes with finalist No. 10 performing at about 8:45 p.m.

The final awards will be announced after the Blue Jays perform at 9 p.m.

There will be an admission charge for the field competition and award ceremonies. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children under 5 will get in free. The program will cost $5.

Shuttles will be used to transfer spectators from the Mercy Medical Building parking lot. 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 9 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.