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WVU Band to appear at 59th Annual Majorette Festival

Jay Drury, director of West Virginia University's marching band, The Pride of West Virginia, says the band is more than happy to travel to Charleston for this year's Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival -- even if it means stuffing 375 college students and their instruments onto nine large charter buses.

"We like to come down to Charleston at least once a year," Drury said. "We have a lot of students in the band who are from that area, and WVU has such a huge fan base down there."

Drury, who took over for longtime marching band director John Hendricks this year, said band members are particularly excited about the majorette festival, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Laidley Field.

The last time The Pride traveled to Charleston for the majorette festival was 2003. But Drury said it's not unusual for the band to travel.

This year, the band has already travelled to Washington, D.C., for a performance, to University of Maryland College Park for the WVU-Maryland football game and to Martinsburg for a high school band festival and will travel to Buchannon later on in the season.

"The kids are always excited to get out and perform in front of a crowd like that," he said. "This type of crowd is a more educated band crowd, so we think they'll appreciate it more."

The marching band will perform its entire pregame show, showcasing such favorites as "Hail West Virginia" and John Denver's "Country Roads."

The band also will perform its halftime show. The show's theme is movies and will include songs from films such as "Star Wars," "The Incredibles," "Robin Hood" and "Batman."

Drury said if there's some time left they might play what he calls "the crowd favorites," such as "Hey, Baby" and "Celebration."

This year also means some changes for the festival itself, which is in its 59th year.

The biggest change is the elimination of the originality performance, which included skits, costumes and specially designed routines.

Festival coordinator Fonda Lockhart said the crowd enjoyed them, but most of the high school band directors found them to be too involved.

"It takes a lot of time to prepare for, and sometimes there's a heavy cost involved," Lockhart said. "The band directors just felt that they'd rather spend more time on the shows that they could use during the regular season."

A show design category will take the place of the originality routine. This category will be scored based on showmanship and creativity.

There also won't be a first and second half to the program. That's because the originality routine has been eliminated, Lockhart said.

This year's festival is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, she said.

"The WVU band will be here, which is always a big draw," Lockhart said. "I'm sure we'll have some big crowds."

Tickets are available at Laidley Field, Kerr's and Gorby's music stores and participating high schools. They are $7 in advance and $8 at the gate.

Jessica M. Karmasek
Daily Mail staff