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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Two competitive marching band festivals held

The Mighty Viking Band performs.
The Mighty Viking Band performs.

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | September 26, 2018

Two marching band competitions are held locally in October. Emory & Henry College hosts a regional competition, and Tennessee High School hosts a festival in the Stone Castle.

Music in the Castle — Oct. 6

Tennessee High School Mighty Viking Band hosts the 67th Music in the Castle Marching Band Festival, Oct. 6 in the THS Stone Castle. The event which is the band’s largest fund raiser of the year helps band members replace and repair instruments, pay for uniforms and pay band competition fees. In addition to the high school bands, there will be vendors and college exhibition bands. The Viking Band, led by David Semones, does not compete in the event, but the students work throughout the event to make it a success.

The Stone Castle was built during the New Deal as a Works Progress Administration project. Construction began in 1934 and was completed in 1936. It was renovated in 1986 and a new renovation program is under way.

The Stone Castle opened Oct. 8, 1936 and has a seating capacity of 8,000. Throughout its history, it has served as a home football field for Tennessee High School, Virginia High School, Slater High School, Douglas High School, King College and Emory & Henry College. The Tennessee Historical Society refers to the Stone Castle as the “most architecturally significant stadium” in Tennessee. It is constructed from limestone. It features arched entries, notched walls and corner towers and is influenced by Medieval Gothic architecture.

In 1951, four businessmen and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce began the band festival. The first competition was held Oct. 11, 1951.

Bands that compete are classified by the number of wind and percussion instruments. There are five groups: Group 1A has 1-35 instruments; Group 2A has 36-55 instruments; Group 3A has 56-74; Group 4A has 75-94; and Group 5A has 95 and more.

First and second place trophies are awarded within each class for music, visual effect, percussion, drum major and auxiliary. A Grand Champion Award is given to the bands with the highest overall score (one for the smaller classes and one for the larger classes). The Band of the Day Award is given to the band with the highest overall score regardless of class.

Tickets are $8 adults, $5 students, children younger than 5 admitted free. For more information, visit

Southwest Virginia Regional Band Competition — Oct. 13 (This competition has been cancelled)

Emory & Henry College hosts the Southwest Virginia Regional Band Competition Oct. 13 in conjunction with the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative. This is the first time the college has hosted a marching band competition.

“We are very excited to welcome 1,000+ students to our campus to take part in this historic event,” says Matthew Frederick, band director and chair of the E&H music department.

Bands from Virginia High School, Salem High School, Blacksburg High School, Lord Botetourt High School, Lee High School, Carroll County High School, Holston High School, Abingdon High School, Richlands High School, Gretna High School, North Greene High School and Pulaski County High School compete.

The competition is held in the Emory & Henry Stadium on campus.

The judges are Ensemble Music, Ryan Summers; Ensemble Visual, Michael Cox; General Effects Music, Beverly Campbell; General Effect Visual, Doug Casteen; Individual Music, Heath Hopper; Individual Visual, Shelba Waldron; Color Guard, Reiko Casteen and Percussion, Jamey Lefevers.

The Virginia Marching Band Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides structure for events that create a positive and rewarding performance experience that enhances skills and abilities. The cooperative promotes participation in marching band events; the art form of marching band based on the teachings and philosophies of quality music education; and respect, professionalism and cooperation.

Tickets to view the regional band competition are $10 adults (13 and older); $5 youth (ages 5 to 12) children free.

For more information, visit


Topics: Festival, L, Music