City recorder Randy Sanders / File photo by Katie Kuba

Post-pandemic, recorder Randy Sanders believes Buckhannon could be the perfect venue for large-scale events

BUCKHANNON – Post-pandemic, Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders is aiming to bring more large-scale events to Buckhannon.

Most recently, Buckhannon City Council approved forming a committee to prepare a bid to host the World Association of Marching Show Bands World Championships for 2023 during the May 21 city council meeting.

Sanders, who is the state director of Miss USA/Miss Teen USA state pageants at Miss Universe Organization, said Brad Kellison and Lee Winter planted the idea in his mind. Kellison and Winter have volunteered with West Virginia Strawberry Festival on several occasions.

“We have really built up a reputation for being able to organize a great parade down Strawberry Lane,” Sanders said. “The marching bands that we’ve attracted over the last two or three decades have been pretty phenomenal, and the layout of Buckhannon is perfect for something like this.”

The World Association of Marching Show Bands World Championships has been going on for about 17 years but has only been hosted in the U.S. on one another occasion in Palm Springs in 2017.

“While I have compiled a great deal of information to use when preparing the actual bid for the event, it is now time to confirm the availability of the key locations for us to host the participants and activities,” Sanders said. “We need to explore potential grants and partnerships with the various tourism departments on the city, county, state and national level, as the anticipated budget for this event will be approximately $150,000, none of which is to come from the City of Buckhannon funds.”

Sanders said the event would potentially bring about 2,000 high school-age musicians and their supporters from around the world to Buckhannon.

“We should we should be able to fill up the campus dorms, and we should be able to fill up the hotels in Buckhannon, Weston, Elkins, and even Clarksburg because with those kids will come supporters, and they’ll be here for almost a week,” Sanders said. “We would mimic some of the things that we do during festival time.”

“We would look at an arts and crafts show,” Sanders added. “We would look at having a couple of major events down on Main Street, including a couple of a parades and opening and closing ceremonies.”

Sanders said one of his goals is to bring events like the WAMSB World Championships to Buckhannon.

“One of the things that that I talked about when I was running to be reinstated was my goal to see Buckhannon continue to flourish as a destination spot,” said Sanders, who was initially appointed to city recorder, but then elected to Colin Reger’s unexpired term in the June 9, 2020 Primary Election. “The Strawberry Festival shows what Buckhannon is capable of doing, but that’s only one week out of the year,” Sanders said. “Not that I want to have something going on in Buckhannon every weekend, but I think every couple of years or every year, we could attract something that is really big.”

Sanders said he has several ideas, but the next event he is looking at is the Miss West Virginia USA statewide pageant.

“I’ve been producing several state pageants over the years, but I’ve isolated it down, largely because of my commitment to the city,” Sanders said. “I decided to no longer produce Pennsylvania moving forward or Indiana, but I am going to produce West Virginia, and I’m really committed to holding that event in Buckhannon.”

Sanders said the tentative date for the pageant would be March 2021.

“I’m still working with the locations to put that all together, so I should be making that announcement soon,” Sanders said. “That’s going to be a big weekend, bringing a lot of parents and bringing a lot of out-of-state visitors in who worked with the production, to judge and so forth, and I want to make sure that makes an impact on Main Street and all of Buckhannon.”

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