Murray State University will once again host one of the oldest and most prestigious marching band festivals of its kind in the nation, the 41st annual “Festival of Champions” high school marching band competition.  The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Roy Stewart Stadium beginning at 11 a.m. Fifteen bands from throughout Kentucky and surrounding states will compete.

“These bands are representative of some of the finest in our region,” said Murray State University Director of Bands, Dennis L. Johnson. “Their appearance is certainly due in part to the quality and national reputation of the Festival of Champions. It is indeed a testimony to our festival and Murray State that so many fine bands will travel such distances to compete.”

John Fannin, assistant director of bands and director of the Murray State University Racer Band, noted that “the competition is filled with terrific bands and should provide a wonderful day of pageantry and excitement.  Forty-one years is quite a milestone and we are doing everything possible to make it a special day for the bands and all those who attend.”

Again this year the event will be filmed for an edited program by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) at a later date.

“This will certainly give the event and those bands that are participating some well-earned television exposure as well as showcase our festival, the Racer Band and our impressive facilities,” said Johnson.

The competition begins at 11 a.m. with the Class A bands and continues through the Class 5A bands which conclude at 3 p.m. The bands will again perform in the finals competition which begins at 5:15 p.m. Following the finals competition and while the evening scores are being tabulated, the Murray State University Racer Band will perform.

“It’s very exciting for our students to perform before so many wonderful bands and such an appreciative audience,” said Johnson.

Classes were determined by school size. The preliminary schedule is as follows:

Class A competition – Mayfield HS (11 a.m.), Murray HS (11:15)

Class 2A competition – Todd County (11:30), Trigg County (11:45), Glasgow (noon)

Class 3A competition – Northside HS (12:15), Calloway County HS (12:30)

Class 4A competition – Barren County HS (1 p.m.), Madisonville HS (1:15), Hopkinsville HS (1:30)

Class 5A competition – Northwest Missouri HS (1:45), Marshall County (2:00), Apollo HS (2:15); Meade County HS (2:30), McCracken County HS (2:45)

Again this year, the presentation of the preliminary awards will be given on the field at the conclusion of the afternoon performances.  The order of the bands for the finals competition will also be determined at that time.

Food, refreshments, Racer Band t-shirts, special souvenirs and festival programs will be available for purchase throughout the day in the concourse of the stadium.  General admission ticket options include admission to the preliminary competition, the finals competition, and a combination ticket for admission for the entire day’s events, and need not be purchased in advance.  For additional information about the 2016 Festival of Champions, contact the University Bands office at (270) 809-6450 from 8:30-4:30 daily, or email or

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