From left: Brian Ingelson, an international coordinator for the World Association of Marching Show Bands; Robbie Skinner, Buckhannon Mayor; and Randy Sanders, president of the WAMSB 2023 Buckhannon Host Committee. (Monica Zalaznik/My Buckhannon)

World band championship coordinator visits Buckhannon as excitement builds for July event

BUCKHANNON – The World Association of Marching Show Bands World Championship will bring thousands of musicians from all around the world to Buckhannon this July.

Brian Ingelson, the USA international coordinator for the World Association of Marching Show Bands, visited Buckhannon over the weekend to meet with local officials and tour the sites where the event will be held this summer. He attended Thursday’s city council meeting, an emergency services planning session and luncheon with local leaders on Friday, and a tour of West Virginia Wesleyan College on Saturday.

Ingelson, who works with organizations and sponsors involved in the upcoming event, coordinated the world championship the only other time it was held in the U.S. — in 2017 in Palm Springs, California. He told local officials to expect an incredible event.

“When we did this in Palm Springs, there was a lot of skepticism — why is Palm Springs doing this?” Ingelson said. “But afterward, there was only one [regret], and it was from people who didn’t come. They said, ‘I wish I would have known, I wish I would have been involved, I wish you would have told me this was going to be such an incredible event.'”

Reflecting on his own experiences, Ingelson said the event has the potential to be life-changing for everyone who participates.

“This experience is going to be incredible for the students,” he said. “It’s going to be incredible for the people who come with them — the parents, the friends, the sponsors. It’s going to be incredible for Buckhannon and it’s going to be incredible for this region.”

While visiting Buckhannon, Ingelson said he was reminded of the time when they were planning the Palm Springs event.

“Everyone [here] is extremely dedicated, and they’re doing an incredible, incredible job,” he said. “I love the way this community is coming together; it really brings back fond memories of when we planned the event [in California]. I congratulate you, and I will do whatever I can to help with the event. I really look forward to seeing what happens here in Buckhannon.”

Randy Sanders, President of the WAMSB 2023 Buckhannon Host Committee, said he put Buckhannon forth as a potential location for the event because he wanted the world to appreciate what the community has to offer.

“We felt we had a great opportunity to bring this competition to the City of Buckhannon, which has proven over and over that it has a warm group of citizens, it has the hospitality factor, it has the greatest parade route in the country, which we see every year during the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, and we have the infrastructure, we have the drive, we have the heart,” Sanders said.

The Buckhannon Host Committee has collaborated with local entities and governmental bodies across the state — and the world — to help welcome all the competitors to West Virginia.

“We’ve worked hand-in-hand, side-by-side with West Virginia Wesleyan College, with the Upshur County Board of Education, with the employees of the City of Buckhannon, with governmental bodies such as the Upshur County Commission, Randolph County Commission, Harrison County Commission, and the City of Elkins,” Sanders said. “We’ve been embraced, we’ve been supported and we are now in the final 167 days prior to the opening ceremonies.”

As the planning enters the final stages, Sanders said volunteers and sponsors are still needed to ensure a successful event.

One of the most significant expenses will be increasing the seating at Wesleyan’s Ross Field.

“We’re going to beef up the infrastructure there with bleachers that will be able to accommodate around 5,100 people,” Sanders said. “It will be about a seven-to-eight-day process for the company to build up the bleachers, and the same thing when they remove them. WVWC is also dedicated to having full lighting on the field so our events can go into the nighttime.”

Sanders also confirmed the event will feature performances by Lee Greenwood and the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp.

“I can announce that our opening ceremony will feature Mr. Lee Greenwood,” Sanders said. “He will be here to sing his traditional and great song, God Bless the USA.”

Securing an early commitment from the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp was a surprise.

“To close out our opening ceremonies will be the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp,” Sanders said. “We just recently received written confirmation, and they don’t usually commit more than 30 days ahead because they do perform at the will of the President. But because of the magnitude of this event, they made an exception and they said, ‘We will make a commitment earlier so that you can plan properly.’”

Both Sanders and Ingelson encouraged local leaders to get excited and help spread the word about what will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“I really look forward to six months from now, sitting down with Randy and saying, ‘Well, what did people say?’ I really hope that you don’t hear, ‘I wish I could have been there,”’ Ingelson said.

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner acknowledged Ingelson’s role in planning the 2023 event and presented him with the key to the City of Buckhannon.

“Thank you for all of your efforts,” Skinner said. “Thank you for your friendship with Randy, for your leadership and for coming here today to talk to us about this event that I’m sure will be a crowd-pleaser and a showstopper for this entire region.”

The WAMSB World Championships are set for July 17-23, 2023. Visit the WAMSB website to learn more.

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