"A Short History of the WVBA, Part 1"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
February, 1997

(This is the first in a series of short articles on West Virginia Bandmasters Association history compiled by Owen West and John Puffenbarger).

In 1935 a state band festival was suggested in which bands would come to Huntington and perform for ratings rather than in competition. Consequently, the first Huntington band festival was held in the spring of 1936. Although some bands had uniforms that year, many wore white duck trousers, white shirts, and "overseas" caps. These were soon replaced by regular uniforms. The people of Huntington housed the various band members and opened their stadium and city auditorium for festival events. For more than twenty-five years the city of Huntington provided free medals and the expenses of adjudicators and guest conductors.

A program of the band festival in Huntington on 11, 12, and 13 May 1939, included the names of twenty-seven participating schools: Alderson, Barboursville, Calhoun County, Clarksburg Washington Irving, Charleston, Doddridge County, Elkview, East Bank, Elkins, Hinton, Huntington, laeger, Lincoln County, Logan, Montgomery, Magnolia, Mercer, Mason County, Oak Hill, Rainelle, Spencer, South Charleston, St. Albans, Van, Welch, Williamson, and Walton.

Because of World War II, in 1943 transportation was curtailed to such an extent that northern bands were not permitted to travel to Huntington, so a festival was held in Clarksburg. In 1944 war-time restrictions had eased somewhat, so it was decided to hold only the Huntington festival. However, so many bands were entering that problems arose, especially in housing.

At this time the Non-Athletic Committee of the Secondary Schools Principals' Association began to study the State Band Festival. In September 1946 Paul Musgrave, chair of this committee, wrote the WVBA insisting that the Huntington Band Festival had grown too large for proper supervision of the students involved. Also, because of the distance involved, many school bands could not participate. Musgrave wanted the band directors to consider the possibility of holding several regional festivals. This was the beginning of a cowoversy between the Secondary Schools Principals'Association and the WVBA for control of band festivals.

Early membership records of the WVBA are not preserved, but according to the minutes of meetings sixty members attended the November 1952 business session, while fifty-three attended theapril 1954 meeting. From 1956 to 1967 membership in the WVBA averaged one-hundred-eighty band directors.