Rotarians learn details of 2023 WAMSB competition


BUCKHANNON — The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur reportedly saw 9,952 individuals at their most recent vaccine clinic and anticipate being able to break the 10,000 mark after their follow-up clinic. The Rotary Club, in partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospital, also has two blood screenings coming up on May 15 and May 22.

City Recorder and fellow Rotarian Randy Sanders gave the club details about the World Association for Marching Show Bands (WAMSB) competition that will be coming to Buckhannon in 2023. The event will be held July 17-23, 2023 with international bands arriving on July 17.

With the support of several other individuals and organizations, Sanders previously submitted a 48-page document to place Buckhannon’s bid for a chance to host the international competition. After the submission, they were invited to make a presentation to WAMSB’s Board of Directors in December. At that point, Buckhannon was up against five different other countries. It is safe to say the presentation went well, as Buckhannon was selected to host the 2023 WAMSB competition—representing Buckhannon, West Virginia, and the United States.

Sanders explained the process is a daunting task and that he couldn’t do it without West Virginia Wesleyan College’s assistance, along with the City of Buckhannon. “Every department is going to be involved,” he explained.

According to Sanders, a lot of infrastructure must be built to host an event of this magnitude. There has been an enormous outpouring of interest from around the country, he noted. Several countries who already have submitted letters of intent include but are not limited to: Honduras, Brazil, Bahamas, Guatemala, Thailand, Poland, Columbia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Ecuador, Netherlands, and a few from Africa. Thus far, a total of 29 bands have submitted interest in the competition.

Sanders explained that WAMSB is not as well known in the United States as it is in other countries, but he said they’re trying to build up its reputation and brand within the U.S.

Sanders has been working with Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Senator Joe Manchin, Representative Alex Mooney, Governor Jim Justice and several other City and State officials to gain their support and guidance for the weeklong event. According to Sanders, it is going to take effort from central West Virginia and beyond to be prepared. Additionally, they’re also looking for support from the United States and West Virginia Departments of Tourism.

“By 2023, Buckhannon will look as beautiful as it always does and then some,” Sanders expressed. They are anticipating 5,000 participants, which will potentially be housed in dormitories from Buckhannon to Morgantown, as well as surrounding counties with colleges such as Randolph and Marion. Having this many individuals here from all over the world will be an economic boom for the state, Sanders noted.

A lot of infrastructure will need to be in place prior to them coming in areas specific to housing, transportation, security, emergency services, etc. Updates to some of WVWC’s field facilities will be in place such as reinstating the field lights and installing and renting new bleachers to accommodate the crowds.

“It is all going to take a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of professional help,” Sanders noted.
They’re currently working with local firm Orion Strategies to help them locally and with their legislative relationships on the regional, state, federal and international level. “Each time we confirm one of these bands, we want to reach out and build a relationship with that country’s media so we can share info about West Virginia and Buckhannon,” Sanders explained.

The event will also consist of a Grand Feature Parade on Strawberry Lane and several entertainment events aside from the competition. The opening ceremonies will be similar to that of the Olympics, Sanders noted. They’re currently looking for individuals of high caliber to perform the week of the competition, but no one has been confirmed yet. 

Given there will be individuals from across the globe, Sanders emphasized that a lot of training for proper etiquette regarding foreign customs will take place prior to bands arriving. “We have to be well versed in their cultures and political stances,” Sanders emphasized. There will also be a great need for translators and band hosts to show them around Buckhannon during their stay.

“I know that Buckhannon and West Virginia can pull this off and have a grand event… It’s picture perfect. It’s a great city for an event like this. We are going to welcome the world!” Sanders concluded.

As Rotary is an international organization, President Julie Keehner expressed to Sanders, “Many of us will help you as you need us. We are the perfect organization because we are international and however that works out, we are here to help you,” she added. Sanders and the Rotary Club of B-U are looking forward to working together to host this massive event right here in downtown Buckhannon.

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