Bands to visit Opp for ‘Little Big Horn’ contest

Published 11:43 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preparations are well under way for the 28th Annual “Little Big Horn” Band Contest and 19 bands are expected to take the field Saturday to compete for the top of their class.

Randy Hughey, band director for the Opp High School “Marching Black and Gold” band, said band attendance for the contest has dropped slightly this year, but still remains one of the top competitions in the area.

“All of these contests are under pressure because of the price of fuel,” he said. “Andalusia had 18 bands last weekend, we have 19 bands, Daleville had eight and Troy had around 15. Even though the number of bands is down, Little Big Horn is still one of the largest band competitions in the area. We are feeling economic pressure just like everyone else.”

Opp’s Channel-Lee Stadium will open its gates at noon Saturday for the contest and the first band, South Walton High School of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., will take the field at 1 p.m. Price of admission will be $5 for everyone age 6 and older. Children under the age of 6 will be admitted free.

Several schools will travel a great distance to attend the contest and Hughey said the rising cost of fuel caused some concern earlier in the year before he began to receive applications.

“I was really sweating it,” he said. “I was afraid we would not be able to get any big bands but we have three 4A bands. Some the bands are also traveling a good distance to attend the competition. Mosely High School is out of Panama City.

“It will be a spend-the-night trip for Gulf Breeze,” he added. “It will probably be charter buses for all three groups and it will be quite expensive.”

According to Hughey, the three class 4A bands attending the contest Saturday will average 100 members and most often require three charter buses for transportation to and from the competition.

Hughey said not much will change for the contest this year and he feels consistency is the best formula for success.

“I think that is one reason why our contest remains so popular,” he said. “Everyone knows what to expect when they come to Opp. Of course we try to make things look nicer and more organized each year, but it will be business as usual.”

The contest will begin with smaller bands in the earlier afternoon and band size will increase as the day progresses. However Central High School of Phenix City, Ala., a class 1A band, will perform at the top of the class 3A competition bracket due to a scheduling conflict.

“The band director has a small group and several of the players were expected to be in a wedding that day,” Hughey said. “He made a request to perform later in the day and we make every effort we can to accommodate the bands, especially ones who have to travel a long distance. Phenix City is no easy drive from here. So we pushed them to later in the day so that they could meet all of their obligations.”

Three Covington County bands will perform in the competition. Straughn High School will take the field for competition at 4:30 p.m., Andalusia will compete at 7 p.m. and Opp will perform as the exhibition band at 8:30 p.m. An award ceremony and trophy presentation will take place at 9 p.m.