Marching bands converge on Fort Smith

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 204 views 


story and photos by Joel Rafkin
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Twenty-one junior and senior high school marching bands took to the field at Mayo-Thompson Stadium at Northside High School to compete in the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association Region VIII Marching Assessment on Tuesday (Oct. 25).

The competition began at 1 p.m. and lasted until awards were presented at 8:45 p.m.. Each band had a 15-minute time slot to perform its selections which are not limited in number but only by the allotted time frame. Gordon Manley, Northside High School band director, said typically the junior highs perform 5 to 6 minutes and the high schools 7 to 9.5 minutes. At the conclusion of the competition, the University of Arkansas Razorback Band performed as a guest band.

"They’re a beast. They’re used to playing in these SEC-sized stadiums. You get them in here is such close proximity; it should be very impressive," said Manley in reference to the Razorback band.

The judges for the event consisted of high school band directors Keith Rutledge of Siloam Springs, Rebecca Gale who recently retired from Bentonville’s band and Adam Cowart of Bentonville.

All the junior high bands, five total, were from Fort Smith. Trinity was the only band in the 9E class while Darby, Ramsey, Kimmons and Chaffin competed in the 9EE class. The high school bands are also divided into classes ranging from AA to AAAAA based on enrollment numbers.

Trophies are awarded based on a standard or rubric, Manley said. The standards are divided into five divisions: superior, excellent, good, fair and poor. Scoring is based on approximately 60% playing, 30% marching and 10% general appearance.

Manley said this is the 22nd or 23rd year the event has been hosted at Northside. Bands come from the River Valley area — as far north as Mountainburg, south to Mena and east to Clarksville. Overall, almost 3,000 band students converged on Fort Smith throughout the day.