Murray State University will be hosting one of the oldest and most prestigious marching band festivals of its kind in the South when the 34th annual Festival of Champions high school marching band competition takes the field in Stewart Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 24.
More than 20 bands from throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee with over 1,500 students will compete.
Festival of Champions, one of the largest festivals in the region, is sanctioned by the Kentucky Music Educators Association as part of its marching band contest season. The competition at Murray is an event that leads to regional and state championships in Kentucky.
The preliminary competition begins at 9:45 a.m., with prelim awards announced at 3:45 p.m. Twelve bands move on to perform during the finals competition, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
The panel of judges includes Garry Naylor, Jason Rinehart and Steve Schifferdecker (music); Joe Roche, Frank Miller and Jarrod Hundley (visual); and Michael McIntosh (percussion) and Alex Perez (guard).
“This is one of the major events each year for the Racer Marching Band. Most Racer bands view this as the highlight of the season,” said John Fannin, assistant director of bands at Murray State. “The Festival of Champions competition is run by Racer Band students and staff.”
The Racer Marching Band will also perform during the event.
Plans this year include a telecast of the competition through KET and PBS programming.
Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12 for either the preliminaries or the finals competition. A combination ticket that is good for both the day and evening competitions is available for $10 for adults and $6 for children under 12. General admission tickets can be purchased at the gate. Special group prices are available for groups of more than 20 who reserve tickets in advance. Interested groups should contact Dennis Johnson, director of university bands, at (270) 809-6456.