Eight Kanawha County Schools sound off in 76th Majorette & Band Festival

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The longest-running music festival in West Virginia tacked on another edition Tuesday.

Eight Kanawha County schools and their marching bands participated in the 76th installment of the Majorette & Band Festival in Charleston at Laidley Field.

All eight schools performed their festival sets for the hundreds in attendance and the judges scoring the contest.

Trophies were then awarded for the Grand Champion band and first and second-runner up. The bands can also earn medals for how they are scored in several categories which include percussion, marching and general effect. The bands were ranked by the judges based on the average points they scored in each of the participating categories.

This year’s Festival Grand Champion is Sissonville High School.

First runner-up was Nitro High School. Second runner-up was given to George Washington High School.

The five other participating schools were Capital, Herbert Hoover, Riverside, South Charleston and St. Albans.

A total of six students competed for the title of Miss Kanawha Majorette. The 2023 champion is Mia Bartoli of George Washington High School.

Bartoli is one of two feature twirlers from GW, with the other being Kaitlyn Thompson. She received a trophy, a bouquet of flowers, and a tiara.

With the event’s longstanding tradition, the participation is still there. Multiple schools reported a rise in participation in their respective bands this year. A majority of the bands also have at least 40 members.

Mae Wooldridg, a senior at St. Albans and member of the marching band, said they have nearly 60 members in their band, which makes performing in this event, in front of so many people, ever more exciting.

“I love it personally. I know some people get stage fright, but to me it’s so much fun,” Wooldridg said.

George Washington also reported an uptick in the number of kids they have in their band. Last year they had less then 30, but this year they had more than 40 participate.

Wooldridg said they start preparing for the band festival in the summer and practiced as much as they could once school started.

“Band camp starts towards the end of summer so we’ve been working on this since then,” she said. “We have after-school rehearsals and football games we treat as fancy rehearsals.”

Also this year, the Marshall Marching Thunder performed for the friends and family members that were there of the eight participating schools.