East Fairmont marching band

The East Fairmont Busy Bee band takes the field at halftime. The band will be one of 14 at Saturday’s 56th Annual Band Spectacular.

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Senior Polar Bear Band will host the 56th Annual Band Spectacular this Saturday at 6 p.m., bringing together 14 bands from around the area to East-West Stadium.

After being cancelled in 2020, the Spectacular is resuming as a continuation of a long-honored tradition.

“I believe the Band Spectacular originated as a fundraiser to help earn us some money to go towards new uniforms,” Fairmont Senior band director John Schneider said. “It turned out to be such a success and garnered so much attention from the community that it turned out to be something that we continued doing.”

More and more bands became interested in the event as time went on, with the idea of a night centered around various marching bands appealing to schools around the area.

“I’ve heard from other band directors that it’s the highlight of many of these kids’ year,” Schneider said. “It’s one of the few events when they aren’t, I guess, a side-act. At a football game they get to play at halftime, but at the band spectacular this is just a showcase of bands and we are there all night to celebrate the students’ hard work.”

Schneider said well over 1,000 students are scheduled to perform Saturday, the culmination of early-season efforts that have collectively taken tens of thousands of hours of work for the band members.

“It makes for a pretty special evening,” Schneider, in his ninth year as band director, said.

The Band Spectacular will see performances from high schools and one college-level band — Fairmont State University. With different sizes and experience levels, the Spectacular is much more of a celebration than a formal competition.

“We have made a decision to keep this non-competitive,” Schneider said. “It’s early in the season anyway, and many bands aren’t just there for a trophy. There is some credence to competitive schools and programs — and Fairmont Senior definitely does compete, but this is not a competition — everyone is welcome to perform.”

“It’s purely just for entertainment.”

Onlookers at the Band Spectacular, Schneider said, can expect a wide variety of different music from marching bands of different sizes and styles. From smaller programs to huge bands like Morgantown and East Fairmont, Saturday’s event should supply “a little bit of everything.”

“Music from movies, pop tunes, some more serious musical works, rock and roll, you’ll hear all kinds of music in the style of different marching bands,” Schneider said.

Fairmont Senior themselves will perform different Motown songs as part of their performance, a fitting throwback to what has been an ever-growing historical event.

“There’s a sense of pride in carrying on the tradition that’s been going on for 56 years,” Schneider said. “It’s pretty special, it’s a tradition that was passed on to me by my band director and his band director and so on, it’s something that’s so important to this band and this community and this town. We love being a part of it and we’re happy that people come out and celebrate with us.”

Tickets for the Band Spectacular will be available at the gate Saturday or can be bought in advance. More information available at the Fairmont Senior High School Polar Bear Band Facebook page.

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548 or by email at nhenthorn@timeswv.com.

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