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30th McChesney festival to feature 17 bands
by GLENN GANNAWAY • Staff Writer
Oct 07, 2010 | 6430 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BIG STONE GAP — An exhibition by one of the Southeast's premier high-school marching bands and the return of a familiar face are among the anticipated highlights of Saturday's 30th annual McChesney Band Festival at Bullitt Park.

The festival, named for the late Virginia McChesney, renowned band director at Powell Valley High School, begins with the traditional parade through downtown. The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Food City parking lot.

Competition in various divisions begins at 1 p.m.

Kingsport, Tenn.'s Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Band, which Powell Valley band director Bryan Wharton calls "one of the premier bands in the Southeast," is slated to do an exhibition at about 5:30 p.m. Wharton is band director at host Powell Valley High School.

And Noel Collins, the former band director at Powell Valley, is the grand marshal for this year's parade, said Wharton.

Collins now lives in Marion, where he retired from Marion High School a couple of years ago, Wharton said. "It's good for him to come back," Wharton said. "He started this contest a long time ago, so he's going to come back to visit and be the grand marshal."

Wharton also said that the number of bands planning to participate in the festival is up from last year. Including competitors and exhibitors, there will be 17 bands participating.

Also, Wharton said, the University of Virginia's College at Wise marching band will do an exhibition at about 3 p.m. The college's trumpet ensemble will perform the National Anthem to open the competition.

Spectators may be overwhelmed just by the size of the Dobyns-Bennett band. "They're massive," Wharton said. "They've got about 300 or 320 members." Dobyns-Bennett's exhibition will come at the end of the contest, after the Powell Valley band plays. D-B will also be in the morning parade.

Wharton noted that the D-B band will play in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade next year. The school has participated in the Macy's parade in the past, as well as in the Rose Bowl Parade. D-B, Wharton said, is preparing to compete in the "Bands of America" competition next month in Indianapolis, Ind.

High school bands that have committed to the festival include those of Castlewood, Twin Springs, Pound, Coeburn, J.J. Kelly, J.I. Burton, Appalachia, Lee, Marion, Northwood, Knott County Central, Ky., Letcher County Central, Ky., Honaker, and Kingsport's Sullivan South.

Concessions will be available for sale. Entrance fee for the competition is $6.

Participation in the McChesney festival was down somewhat last year, which Wharton attributes to an increasing number of competitions.

"It looks like we're going to have more this year than last year," Wharton said. "There's a lot of contests that started popping up on that day. It used to be just us and George Wythe. Now Daniel Boone High School has one. George Wythe has still got theirs on the same day."

"But we're actually going to have a pretty high number. Lots of contests now are only getting nine or 10," Wharton said. "Wise has quite a few. I think we'll have a pretty good number. And having Dobyns-Bennett is like having four or five."

Competition judges include:

• Band: Donnie Sorah, David Semones of Bristol, Tenn., and Uley Daniels of Damascus.

• Percussion: Bob Ballangee, who is from Big Stone Gap and now lives in Marion.

• Color guard: Michael Cox of UVa.-Wise.

• Drum major: Alvin Robinette, who is from Big Stone Gap and now lives in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

• Majorette: Angie Tipton of Big Stone Gap.

After its trip to Universal Studios last April, Powell Valley's upcoming events include a concert band competition in Atlanta next spring. The band's Christmas concert will be the first Tuesday in December. The band will be traveling to North Carolina Oct. 23 for its final marching band competition of the year at Greensboro's Northwest Guilford High School.
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