Little Big Horn marching on for 30 years

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 15, 2010

For the last 30 years, band members, parents and other spectators from across the Southeast have made their way to Opp for Little Big Horn.

Little Big Horn, Opp High School’s band competition, is held each October at Channel-Lee Stadium, and has become a favored day on the schedule of marching bands since its inception in 1980.

Opp Band Director Randy Hughey said on a normal year, the festival draws more than 4,000 people to the stadium, which is the one of the largest crowds in Opp – second only to the Rattlesnake Rodeo.

“We’ve had years, where it’s been standing room only,” he said.

Hughey said the competition takes year-round planning.

“We’re constantly trying to come up with ways to do things more efficiently,” he said.

Hughey said the band boosters “get down to business” when football season rolls around.

“My responsibility is the contest part,” he said. “I do everything from signing up the bands to scheduling to securing the judges and ordering trophies.”

The band boosters handle the concessions, transportation and souvenirs.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” he said. “We also have to handle bus parking, security issues and man the dressing rooms.”

Hughey said it takes more than 100 adults, along with Opp High School band members to make the day run smoothly.

It is also one of the biggest fundraisers for the band each year, netting an estimated $6,000 in profits, he said.

“We give away around $3,000 in trophies, and it costs about $2,500 for judges,” he said. “So we really only make money from concessions and the gate.”

This year, Hughey said there are 17 bands signed up to take the field on Saturday, which is a decrease from previous years.

“We’re a little bit down due to the fact that Troy University is having Band Day,” he said.

Hughey said the good thing about Little Big Horn is that it allows smaller bands to participate and compete against bands their size, which was the goal of the competition’s founder, Ronnie Mallory, 30 years ago.

“They have a fair shot,” he said. “It’s much easier to compete with a 100-member band than a 25-member band.”

Hughey said there will be four classes of bands competing.

Locally, Red Level’s Touch of Class will take the field at 3 p.m. and Andalusia’s A Sound Tradition will perform at 7:40 p.m.

Hughey said other bands in the surrounding area that will compete are New Brockton, Zion Chapel and Elba.

For marching band enthusiasts, Hughey said the big battle will come in the class 4 competition.

“We will have Baker, Foley and Prattville competing for the big class, and it’ll be a big battle,” he said.

Opp High School’s Marching Black and Gold will be featured in an end-of-the-competition exhibition, where they’ll play tunes from the rock-group Journey.

“We do get judged, but we don’t acknowledge it if we were to win,” Hughey said.

The event will begin around 1 p.m., on Saturday. Admission is $6 for ages 6 and older.

The Opp High School band recently performed at the A-Town Invitational recently. The band will perform an exhibition Saturday at the end of the Little Big Horn compeition. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News