UCHS Blue Devil Band members Emily Tapp, Aaron Fregoso, Makayla Clouse, Cynthia Mendoza, Ethan Erwin, Savanna Williams and Kate Hollenbeck celebrate victories at the 67th Annual Apple Festival Competition in Chilhowie, Virginia. (Contributed photo)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School Blue Devil Marching Band continues to build a winning tradition.

According to UCHS band director Evangeline Hurter, the band competed on Sept. 28 in the 67th Annual Apple Festival Competition in Chilhowie, Virginia.

“In class 5A-1 the band received first place in the following categories: music, marching and general effect, thus winning our class,” Hurter told The Erwin Record. “The band won the Upper Division Grand Championship, outscoring the bands competing in class 4A-1 through class 6A –  that’s 10 bands in all and the band also won the Band of the Day Award for having the highest scores out of all the bands.”

This year’s event featured more than 20 regional bands.

“There were 22 bands that competed from Upper Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia,” Hurter said.

According to Hurter, the marching band has put in the work to achieve these awards.

“The kids in this program are extremely dedicated, willing to work long hours to make every performance opportunity something both they and our community can be proud of,” Hurter said. “It takes a special kind of kid to do what they do and do it well. They are an amazing group and I am proud to be their director.”

Hurter acknowledged that the community has really rallied behind the band programs.

“This program has grown largely due to the blossoming middle school program. Hayley Goad is a tremendous asset to the entire band program,” Hurter said. “It also takes a great staff to be successful in the competitive marching band world and we are very blessed in that area; however, none of this would be possible without the hard work of the band boosters who provide support and financial means to make it all happen.”

The UCHS Blue Devil Marching Band looks to keep their winning streak going as they encounter future competitions.

“Our next competition dates are: Oct. 19 at the Hilltopper Invitational held at Science Hill High School; Oct. 26 at the Appalachian Classic held at Sullivan Central High School; and Nov. 2 at Tennessee Division 2 State Marching Band Competition held in Smyrna, Tennessee,” Hurter said. “The theme of this year’s show is Lost At Sea and will be continuously changing until our final competition as we add different musical and visual details.”

For more information about upcoming contests and ways to help sponsor the UCHS Blue Devil Marching Band, please follow Unicoi County High School Band Boosters on Facebook.