The Chien Kuo HS Marching Band make their debut at the opening ceremonies of the 2023 World Association of Marching Bands Championships Wednesday evening. / Photos by Brian Bergstrom

Noteworthy: The 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Championship is officially underway in Buckhannon

BUCKHANNON – The 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Championship debuted several of its participating bands at the international competition’s opening ceremonies July 19.

Marching bands from around the world began to arrive in Buckhannon, West Virginia, last weekend. However, the official kickoff to the competition commenced Wednesday evening with the opening ceremonies at West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Ross Field, where guests were treated to performances from some of the bands and a performance by Lee Greenwood for the grand finale.

The Chorotegas Latin Band dances their way around the track.

The bands that participated in the opening ceremonies included Banda Juvenil Filarmonía, Bethel Marching Band, Boinas Verdes Marching Band, Calgary Round-Up Band, Calgary Stetson Show Band, Chien Kuo High School Marching Band, Chorotegas Latin Band, Crumlin Community Band, Engelholm Marching Band, Green Beret Marching Band, Malissori Marching Band, National, Cadet Corps Ghana, Showband Les Armourins,, TheTwistmen.Winds and Wood and Brass Marching Band.

2023 WAMSB Buckhannon Host Committee President Randy Sanders welcomed attendees to the kickoff event.

“My name is Randy Sanders, your president of the organizing group whose underlying theme for the past two-and-a-half years has been, ‘Uniting the World Through Music,’” Sanders said. “For only the second time in the 27-year history of the World Association of Marching Show Bands, the National Board of Directors selected a location within the United States to host this acclaimed competition and we are that location – Buckhannon, West Virginia!”

Wednesday night’s emcee and head of the 2023 WAMSB Organizing Committee Randy Sanders.

Mayor Robbie Skinner thanked Sanders for all his work to bring WAMSB to Buckhannon and welcomed all the people visiting the town for the event.

“It is certainly an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown as mayor,” Skinner said. “Welcome to Buckhannon, welcome to West Virginia and isn’t it an honor to welcome everyone to the country that we love, the United States of America? Isn’t this awesome? We are so fortunate to be here, live here and to host this event.”

Skinner thanked neighboring communities for contributing their time, hospitality and even some instruments to participants in the event.

“We’re very thankful, and we’re very, very blessed to have the neighbors that we do,” Skinner said. “You may have seen earlier today on social media that the instruments for a group from Poland didn’t arrive, and we thank the members of the Grafton High School Band and the Philip Barbour Band for coming to the rescue. We have fantastic neighbors, and as West Virginians, we always lend a helping hand to our neighbor, and we couldn’t put forth this event without them.”

Skinner invited the mayor of Elkins, Jerry Marco, to stand and accept his thanks for assisting Buckhannon and the WAMSB organization. He also acknowledged Weston, Lewis County and Harrison County for all their support.

He closed his remarks by inviting Lee Greenwood and his wife to the podium and presenting him with the key to the city.

“On behalf of our city council, the administration, the 7,000 folks that call this town home, the businesses and all the visitors, I want to bestow to you the city’s highest honor, the official Key to the City of Buckhannon in perfect gold, with our city seal,” Skinner said. “Please display it with pride — I know you will — and thank you for being here. Welcome to Buckhannon, West Virginia; we’re so honored to hand you the key to the city on behalf of our residents.”

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner presents the key to the City of Buckhannon, the municipality’s highest honor, to Lee Greenwood and his wife, Kimberly.

WAMSB International Communications Officer, Executive Council Chris Herard recognized all the bands for their drive and skill, before wishing them luck in the upcoming competition.

“Over the next four days, we will witness the combination of talents, dedication and hard work from these marching show bands,” Herard said. “As we come together in harmony, we celebrate not only the diversity of our cultures but also the shared language of music that binds us as one global family. I encourage you to embrace the spirit of friendly competition, sportsmanship and mutual respect as we embark on this extraordinary journey. I wish you the very best of luck to all participants.”

He also thanked the organizing committee for all their hard work and planning that culminated in the opening ceremony.

“To Randy Sanders and the entire organizing committee, thank you and congratulations on those three years of hard work; you’ve knocked it out of the park, and we are so proud to be here in beautiful Buckhannon, West Virginia,” Herard said. “To our judicial panel, which comes to us from every corner of the globe, thank you for your dedication to our mission and for sharing your world-class experience and expertise with our competitors.”

“Welcome to the World Association of Marching Show Band Championships,” he continued. “Let the festivities begin!”

WAMSB International Coordinator for the United States of America Brian Ingleson said the only other time the competition had taken place in the U.S. was six years ago in Palm Springs, California.

“I was so thrilled to hear that Buckhannon, West Virginia, would be the second city to host this incredible event, bringing youth from around the world together in peace and harmony to share their music,” Ingelson said. “Beyond the students sharing this music, you as community members, the sponsors of this event, everybody who’s been involved with the creation of this incredible festival over the last three years is part of this incredible journey.”

Ingelson said he hopes the Buckhannon-Upshur community can look back on this momentous occasion in the future.

“At the end of this weekend, you will be one of 27 groups from around the world and only the second group in the United States to have hosted an international WAMSB event – you should be very proud,” Ingelson said. “To the students, the band members who will be entertaining you, to the parents and to everybody who’s put this event together, I extend greetings from California and Palm Springs.”

“I know a week from now we will be talking about what an incredible event this has been,” he added. “Thank you for coming and supporting it; tell your friends and we look forward to seeing you over the next few days.”

A full schedule of events, a link to purchase tickets and photo galleries of WAMSB can be found on My Buckhannon.

Country music legend Lee Greenwood sings a few hits, including his iconic “God Bless the USA.”

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