Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
SCOOBA – More than 10,000 people are expected on the campus of East Mississippi Community College today and Oct. 20, when a pair of marching band festivals are slated for EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field in Scooba.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association Region 3 marching competition is set for today, while the USBands/EMCC Mighty Lion Band Southern Regional Marching Band Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20. Nearly four dozen bands are expected to be showcased during the festivals, some with as many as 250 members.
“We’re just so excited to have these kids on campus,” EMCC band director Steve Stringer said. “We want to be a part of their educational experience and hope to help them create memories for a lifetime.
“We want them to bring their A game to show off for the judges and these other bands.”
Thirty-plus schools, and more than 2,000 students, will be trying for superior ratings Saturday in the MHSAA Region 3 event – which is actually being hosted by Meridian High School but is taking place at EMCC. Action begins at 8 a.m., with Class 1A and 2A schools marching and continues until a second exhibition performance by the EMCC Mighty Lion Band at about 6 p.m.
“Meridian has held this event for several years and a lot of people would love the opportunity to host it,” Stringer said, noting both festivals are excellent opportunities for EMCC to showcase its campus to potential students. “Some of these bands will have the opportunity to qualify for the MHSAA championships and for some of them, it’s their first and only contest of the year. They’ll put everything they’ve got into it.”
High schools lined up to participate today include Clarkdale, Ethel, Stringer, Sebastopol, Taylorsville, Enterprise, Mize, Lake, Union, Choctaw Central, Forest, Southeast Lauderdale, Seminary, Raleigh, Morton, Philadelphia, Northeast Lauderdale, Noxubee County, West Lauderdale, Northeast Jones, Laurel, Quitman, Newton County, Louisville, Leake Central, West Jones, Wayne County, South Jones, Neshoba Central and Meridian.
The USBands event Oct. 20, Stringer said, is the first of its kind in the area. Thirteen bands are tentatively set to compete.
“It’s the first time we’ve held something like this and it may be the first time they’ve held one in Mississippi,” Stringer said of USBands, which hosts festivals nationwide throughout the fall – including about two dozen across the country on Oct. 20.
“Some bands will use this as a warm-up for state competition on Oct. 27, because the judging format is very similar,” Stringer said. “We’re calling it the Southern Regional marching championship and eventually we’d like to get bands from other states here. But we’re very pleased with the bands that we have and we think it’s going to be a great experience.”
In addition to EMCC’s Mighty Lion Band, schools slated to compete Oct. 20 include Starkville High School, Jackson Academy, Northwest Rankin High School, Stone High School, Choctaw Central High School, Grenada High School, Oak Grove High School, South Jones High School, Meridian High School, West Lauderdale High School, Northeast Jones High School and Northeast Lauderdale High School.
“We would love for the public to come out and support not only their bands, but music and the arts in general,” Stringer said. “Both events should be great competitions and we’re very excited about hosting them.”