BUCKHANNON – It’s official: Buckhannon, West Virginia is one of the possible locations for the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands World Championships.
City recorder Randy Sanders spearheaded the effort to create a bid, advocating for Buckhannon’s consideration. Sanders attended a virtual meeting with the WAMSB committee members Sunday, Dec. 13 after Buckhannon was determined to be a finalist.
Sanders recently spoke with My Buckhannon about his efforts to take Buckhannon to the top of the pack.
“Keep in mind, the folks I spoke to were from all over the world, so, it was very interesting to be a part of that,” Sanders said. “Canada is where the bulk of the organizers were from, a couple from the United States, but they had members from Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Denmark, Ireland, Germany and Mexico was on the call. It was like the United Nations of band members, conductors, so on and so forth.”
The committee could not reveal which other countries were in the finals, but Buckhannon was among those in the final selection phase. Sanders said one committee members was already familiar with Buckhannon and sang its praises.
“One of the U.S. board members has been to Buckhannon on a few occasions; he’s worked with the college and he worked with one of the high school band directors from way back, so he’s familiar with the area,” Sanders said. “He lives in North Carolina now, but he helped me. He said, ‘I’ve been to West Virginia, I’ve been on the campus of college, it’s a tremendous community, it’s one of the most beautiful campuses that I’ve ever seen,’ so that was huge.”
Sanders has previous experience working on live events, such as the Miss Universe and Miss USA organizations, and he said big productions can benefit from residing in a small town because they aren’t competing with anything else.
“The problem when you take a big event and put it into a big venue – in a big city like Dallas, or Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or wherever – city organizers have so many things going on. For instance, Las Vegas, pre-COVID had so many things going on that you could go to the Miss Universe pageant or you can go see Cher or Britney Spears, on and on and on,” Sanders said. “The bottom line is when you go to a small town, all the attention is given to this one event.”
He said the committee will decide where the 2023 championship will take place in early January and if Buckhannon is chosen, it will only be the second time the event has taken place in the United States.
“This is going to be huge, not only for Buckhannon, but for West Virginia,” Sanders said. “If this unfolds as it is envisioned, this will be probably the big thing going on in West Virginia in July or 2023, so the organizers are very smart in saying ‘let’s go where we are a huge big fish in a smaller pond, instead of a small fish in a huge pond.’”
Sanders Buckhannon itself would greatly benefit from hosting such well-known event, especially the city’s hotels, stores and restaurants.
“It will completely fill up the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College. We’re talking about a potential of 2,500 to 3,000 competitors coming in, so it’s kind of like building an Olympic Villa only we don’t have to build because the infrastructure is here,” Sanders said. “We can’t house everybody, so we’ll house them at other colleges; we’ll have them in other hotels up and down 79, but the focus will always be in Buckhannon and every business that wants to take advantage of it will be able to.”
Read more about the World Association of Marching Show Bands here.