After nearly a decade-long break, the Mount Airy Festival of Bands returned in October.
On Oct. 22 Mount Airy High School hosted the 20th annual Mount Airy Festival of Bands. However, the 19th festival was held in the first decade of the century, according to band director Jonathan Jones.
Jones said about a decade ago, the band program at Mount Airy folded. In 2012, Jones was enlisted to rebuild the program, which has been a task aided by the tradition surrounding band at Mount Airy.
“It’s not like building a program in a place which never had one,” explained Jones. “There is a rich history in this program.”
Jones said the task was simple. He had to develop the talent in his ranks to rebuild, and rebuild he has.
Jones said in competitions this year his band, which marches seventh and eighth graders, has placed no lower than second in all events but one. The program is back on the rise, and that is good for everybody involved.
“We provide energy when the (football) team needs it,” said Jones. “We help get them hyped up.”
While the role of the marching band is important under the lights on Friday night, it can be more important to the lives of youngsters.
“Kids are going to join a team,” said Jones, explaining there are plenty of bad groups into which children could find acceptance. “We give them a positive team to join.”
Throughout the rebuilding years, Jones has had a goal in mind — to revive the Mount Airy Festival of Bands. However, such an event is not easily put together.
“It takes 30 to 40 parents committed throughout the months of planning and the event,” explained Jones.
Jones said parents must run concessions and manage logistical aspects, such as helping visiting bands move props onto the field and controlling crowds.
He noted there are 46 students in Mount Airy’s marching band, and the parents of those students stepped up to become an active boosters group.
Thus, the 20th Festival of Bands went off without a hitch. Fourteen bands, including Morehead and Mount Airy High Schools, which performed as exhibition bands, played at the competition. Jones said the bands ranged from 1A to 4A programs, and each had 20 minutes to perform.
As an added twist, Jones noted band directors from North Stokes and North Surry High Schools are Mount Airy alumni who chose to return to their stomping grounds to perform.
Mount Airy was ineligible for any prizes since the high school hosted the competition, but the band took part in exhibition performance, said Jones.
Dr. Kim Morrison is now superintendent at the city schools, but also was the last band director at Mount Airy before the program folded, said Jones. She sat as a judge at the Oct. 22 event.
Jones said Morrison described the Mount Airy band which took the field as “one of the best Mount Airy bands she had ever heard.”
Needless to say, Jones thinks the future of the revived program is bright, and the Mount Airy Festival of Bands will continue to be an annual tradition for decades to come.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.