BUCKHANNON — Members of our local Rotary Club resumed in person meetings on Tuesday. Following a welcome by Rotary President Kathy McMurray and completion of the Pledge of Allegiance, a special presentation was provided by Rotary Member and Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders on the World Association of Marching Show Bands Competition (WAMSB).
According to documentation provided by Sanders, WAMSB is an international association comprised of 32 nations and represents 24 band associations and 1 competition. WAMSB states they are, “dedicated to promoting global communication and interaction between marching show bands.” Additionally, WAMSB has an initiative to inspire participation bands in marching show bands universally.
Buckhannon will host the 2023 competition which will take place from Monday, July 17, 2023, through Monday July 24, 2023. This is huge as the event has only been held one other time in the United States. The first time the event was held in the United States was 26 years ago and was hosted in Palm Springs, California. Sanders spoke of the potential this event will have economically, reporting it could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tourism will also be impacted as it would be many visitors first trip to our state and even their first time visiting the United States. The opportunity to host this major event can also create long-term business partnerships.
Currently, there have already been an estimated 40 bands register for the event ranging from locations in Angola (Southern Africa) to Poland. Sanders noted that, “Although they have completed registration, it does not yet confirm participation.” Sanders discussed that bands are still registering for the event. It is also a large undertaking as bands that plan to participate have to obtain Visas and raise funds for the travel. Sanders reported that the officials in Buckhannon are assisting as much as they can to aid the process, which mostly consists of providing the band documentation that Buckhannon is the host city for the 2023 event. He also noted, “This is a world class group of performers who are anxious to come to the United States, most of them for the very first time… We will be working on coordinating the activities as well as inviting them to visit some of the sights of West Virginia and even surrounding states so economically this will help more than just Buckhannon.” Sanders reported domestic bands are also being looked at to participate in competition or provide entertainment to the visiting bands.
Sanders spoke of some barriers, such as language and customs. However, Sanders reported that once a final list of participating bands are compiled that studies will be done to learn of those languages and customs to provide a fully inclusive experience. Additionally, Sanders advised that partnerships have been made or are being made with colleges to provide meals and rooms to band members. Additionally, West Virginia Wesleyan College has been discussed as being the placement for competition but would require additional bleachers. Bleachers can be rented for approximately $138,000, including assembly and disassembly, which both require about seven days. He also reported utilizing Jawbone Park and other areas for coordinating events. Sanders notes that the city will need to have some capital to produce the event. So, fundraising will start to be implemented as well.
Sanders also reached out to the other members of Rotary requesting them to reach out to other Rotary Clubs all around the world. “Maybe we can reach out and contact these clubs and get some publicity out about the event and coordinate that way.” Furthermore, Sanders spoke briefly on the war in Ukraine as Poland has registered for the event, but since Poland is a neighbor of Ukraine, they are feeling the effects of the war as well. “Let us keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” said Sanders.