By Debbie Adams
The William Byrd Marching Terriers hosted their 25th annual band competition, the Blue Ridge Festival of Bands, on Saturday, October 29.
Dan Plybon, WBHS Director of Bands, described the day as a “huge success” with 20 high school marching bands coming out to the campus of William Byrd to perform their half time shows.
“All the bands showcased performed with high energy and great spirit,” Plybon said. “It was the last performance for many of the bands’ competitive seasons. It was a great day.”
“All our students, parents, and volunteers worked very hard for it to be such a success. After our students worked all day helping to run our contest, they performed the best show of their season. I could not be prouder of their efforts. Yesterday was a true testament of our band and our band family. I feel blessed to be a part of it all.”
In the early years of the competition, the event, founded by band director David Vail, was known as the Preview of Champions and was the first band competition in the area each fall. In 2019 it was renamed the Blue Ridge Festival of Bands. The event is organized as a fundraiser by the WBHS Band Boosters, band staff, and students and showcases the talents of marching bands from across the region.
Bands are judged on their musical performance, their marching form and precision, general
effect (showmanship, guard work, difficulty level, communication with the audience, visuals,
and transitions) and given a rating of superior, excellent, or good in the adjudication. Awards are presented for Drum Major, Color Guard, Percussion, General Effect, Marching, Music, and Overall Performance. Champions of the festival are named.
Bands are classified by the number of students in the band, including the Color Guard, with Class A having the fewest members. The event was divided into afternoon and evening performances with two awards ceremonies.
Four Class A and six Class AA bands performed in the first session between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; six Class AAA and four AAAA bands competed in late afternoon and evening. The Marching Terriers performed in exhibition at the end of the evening as judges’ scores were being tabulated.
Competing bands in Class A this year included the Gretna High School Marching Hawks, the William Campbell High School “Pride of Southside Marching Generals,” the Randolph Henry High School Marching Statemen, and the James River High School Marching Knights.
Class AA bands included the Rustburg High School Marching Red Devils, the Chatham High School Marching Cavaliers, the Altavista Combined “Pride of Altavista Marching Colonels,” the Stuarts Draft High School “Draft Express” Marching Band, the Heritage High School Big Orange Marching Machine and the Liberty Christian Academy Marching Bulldogs.
The Marching Bulldogs from Liberty Christian were named Grand Champions for Class A/AA.
Bands in Class AAA included the Radford Regiment Bobcat Marching Band from Radford High School, the Blue Demon Marching Band from Christiansburg High School, the Marching Colonels from William Fleming High School, the Marching Greyhound Band from North Surry High School, the Marching Highlanders from Glenvar High School, and the Marching Minutemen from Liberty High School.
Class AAAA bands performing were the Marching Bees from Brookville High School, the Marching Knights from Cave Spring High School, the Marching Cavaliers from Lord Botetourt, and the Pride of Salem from Salem High School.
The Marching Knights from Cave Spring High School were named Grand Champions in the AAA/AAAA competition.
The Marching Terriers performed this season’s program, “Ready or Not” in exhibition to close out the festival. Dan Plybon is the Band Director with Jordan Downing as Assistant Director. Percussion instructor for the Marching Terriers this year is Kaylan Rowe. Color Guard instructor is Jenny Swortzel.
William Byrd student leadership includes Corps Commander Sam Ferris, Drum Major Latriva Pierce, Brass Captain Jake Blevins, Woodwind Captain Maggie Parkhurst, Percussion Captain Jack Powell, and Color Guard Captain Emily Jones.
Judges for the 2022 Blue Ridge Festival of Bands were Jim Bradshaw judging Marching; Scott Allred judging Music; Robb Shipp judging General Effect; Percussion judge Michael Tingler; Color Guard judge Bethany Mattox, and Drum Major judge Cedric Hairston.
William Byrd Band Booster officers who facilitated the festival, with much help from band parents, include President Heather Wray, Vice President Joe Eline, Secretary Kellie Powell, and Treasurer Beth Radford.