With fall comes football. And with football comes marching bands.

Saturday, Cumberland County High School Jet Pride Marching Band will host the 30th annual Upper Cumberland Marching Band Festival. Band alumni will also have the chance to visit with long-time band director and festival founder Steve Tinnel at a special reception Saturday afternoon.

Tinnel said, "I always had great success with the festival. It was something I wanted to do when I started teaching at CCHS in 1982. It was a matter of implementing those plans. Thanks to band booster Darlene Burdick, we were able to get the first festival going that fall."

Many bands must travel around the state to take part in marching band festivals to showcase their talents. Tinnel saw a need to have a festival in the Upper Cumberland for the many schools in the area. CCHS offered a great venue for such an event.

"Everything is to one side and the seats are high above the field, so you can see what's happening," he said.

The festival splits bands into categories based on the number of band members. Awards are given to the top performing bands in each category, though individual awards, such as those for drum line, are not awarded.

"We've had as many as 30 bands competing for superior and excellent ratings," Tinnel said. "The festival is a fund raiser for the band boosters, and I hope they have a successful festival. You can run a band program for a year off a successful festival."

Ten bands are scheduled to perform Saturday, including CCHS and Stone Memorial High School marching bands. Other bands will travel from Cookeville High School, Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, White County High School, Smith County High School, Scott County High School, Upperman High School in Baxter, Central High School in Wartburg and Jackson County High School.

The Jet Pride Marching Band will perform its Pirates of the Caribbean halftime show.

"It's a lot of fun. The kids enjoy getting to dress up a little bit and the music is catchy and familiar to them," said Eric Hennen, band director.

Hennen is in his second year as director of the band. He's working to build the program through involvement in music programs at elementary feeder schools.

"Last year, the band had 36 students. With the seniors that left, we had 28 returning, but we were able to recruit more students and have 54 kids marching this year," Hennen said. "Increasing the size of the band program was my main goal walking into CCHS. I also want to reach out into the community and get music, specifically band, on the agenda and make that important."

Hennen works with the Martin Elementary band program three days a week and works with music teachers at Pleasant Hill and Brown Elementary on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"Marching is fun. It's a good time," Hennen said. "It can be hard to have that big picture when you first start playing an instrument. But, the kids here love it."

The proceeds from the festival will be used to help the CCHS band extend its presence in the community and to provide additional equipment needed for the band program.

"Sometimes, raising money is hard, especially in today's economy," Hennen said. "But we're actively trying to recruit students and this will help us do that."

The festival is scheduled to begin with the National Anthem at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, with the first band taking the field at 2:40 p.m.

A special event for the 30th anniversary is a reception honoring Tinnel, set for 2 to 6 p.m. in the vocal music room at CCHS.

"I'm looking forward to seeing all those faces. I'd like to see the kids who marched with my first band in 1982," Tinnel said.

Gretchen Thurman, a former band booster, said, "We wanted to let him know how appreciated he is. By having the reception during the festival, he'll get to see a lot of his friends who are still directing bands and we've invited past directors that competed through the years."

The band alumni are also invited to join the current Jet Pride Marching Band at the homecoming game Friday night. Those who wish will be able to play the CCHS fight song on the field. They will also be able to sit in the stands with the band if they wish.

Those who would like additional information regarding the reception may contact Thurman at 456-4539.

The Upper Cumberland Marching Band Festival will begin at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $5.


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