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Festival fanfare: Newton part of Rockdale band competition

CONYERS - More than a dozen high school marching bands from North Georgia, including Newton High School, will convene in Rockdale County this weekend.

In an event that Rockdale County High School has sponsored since 1977, RCHS will play host to the 32nd Annual Greater Atlanta Marching Festival. Performances are scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and end after the 8:40 p.m. performance; contest awards are scheduled to begin at 9:10 p.m.

This year, at least 16 bands from metro Atlanta and north Georgia will compete at the Reid Stadium, which is located at 1174 Bulldog Circle in Conyers.

Area marching bands will perform from 1:45 to 8:20 p.m. - including Newton High School's marching band at 6:40 p.m. - as part of the festival's competition, and the Rockdale band will perform an exhibition at 8:40 p.m. Bands from Monroe Area, Duluth, Eagle's Landing, Jasper County, South Gwinnett and other high schools will also compete in the event.

"This is the first competition that (the students) are doing this year, and they are really excited about it," Newton band director Jason Smith said. "They've been working on this show for about three weeks and are making some changes to it. Hopefully, we will come out of it with some good ratings."

Scott Stanton, band director at Rockdale, said at least 1,500 band members from around the state will be a part of the competition, which gives bands comments, evaluations and information about how they are meeting standards with their performances.

"It's a real positive atmosphere," Stanton said. "The bands are there to support each other. It's a learning time and also a time to sit and watch bands."

Generally, each band will perform its halftime performance.

"This is definitely a family-friendly event," Stanton said. "If you enjoy good music, it's a great opportunity for the community to come out."

He said band members, band alumni and parents of band members especially will enjoy the show.

"It's a great atmosphere for everyone," he said.

The event costs $8 for people 13 years old and older; $5 for children ages 3 to12. Children under 3 years old or those with a pass from the Georgia High School Association and the Georgia Music Educators Association can get in for free. Staff at Rockdale County Public Schools with a pass also get in free, plus one guest for free.

Concessions and souvenirs will be sold at the event.

"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. It allows us to continue and add to programs," Stanton said. "This is a great opportunity to come out and see incredible performances and a great way to support our bands."

A complete schedule and more information about the festival are available by visiting www.rockdaleband.com/gamf.htm.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If you go

· What: 32nd Annual Greater Atlanta Marching Festival featuring Rockdale County High School (8:40 p.m.) and Newton High School (6:40 p.m.)

· When: 1:45 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Reid Stadium, 1174 Bulldog Circle, Conyers

· Cost: $8 for 13 years old and older; $5 for ages 3 to12; free to under 3 years old and those with a pass from the Georgia High School Association and the Georgia Music Educators Association; free, plus one guest for Rockdale County Public Schools staff with a pass

· More information: A complete schedule and more information about the festival are available by visiting www.rockdaleband.com/gamf.htm.