By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The time to strike up the marching bands – at least 25 or 30 of them – is coming soon.
One of the southeast’s oldest marching band festivals is right here in Gadsden, at Titan Stadium on Sept. 29.
MidSouth Marching Band Festival got its start 48 years ago in Gadsden, founded by longtime Gadsden High Band Director Rip Reagan.
Now it’s his son, Steve Reagan leading the band at Gadsden City High School, and supervising a band festival that has grown into a mark-your-calendar event for young musicians and fans of bands.
“MidSouth is the second biggest tourist event in Gadsden, behind RiverFest,” Reagan said.
He said around 25 or 30 marching bands are expected to come to Gadsden for the competition, from across Alabama and Georgia, and at least a couple from Tennessee.
MidSouth is a competition festival, Reagan said. For marching band members, there will be rankings and scores.
For the audience, there’s a chance to see a lot of great bands, Reagan said, performing shows of all different styles and all kinds of music.
In addition to the scores bands will receive, he said, each division will honor a band as the Best in Show.
And for the first time, Reagan said, there will be a new honor – the Rip Reagan Most Entertaining Band Awards, one for Division 1A and 2A, and one for Division 3A and 4A.
In addition to the performances from high school bands, Reagan said Jacksonville State University’s Marching Southerners will march in exhibition.
“We’re always pleased to have the Southerners,” Reagan said. “Their performance in itself is a crowd-pleaser.”
Admission for MidSouth is $5. The festival starts at noon, Reagan said, and will continue through the afternoon and evening.