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After spending her childhood attending the Gazette-Mail Kanawha County Majorette & Band Festival, Sydney Moore, of St. Albans High School, walked away as the 73rd Miss Kanawha Majorette.

“I’m ecstatic tonight. I love being a part of the history of this competition and being a part of my marching band,” Moore said, smiling big with glitter under her eyes.

Moore also won gold as a feature twirler, a title she competed for last year when she walked away with a silver medal. Moore will graduate in June, and she plans to continue twirling at Marshall University, where she intends to study engineering and Spanish.

“This is surreal, I never could have imagined,” Moore said. “I couldn’t do this without my parents and my twirling coach. I’ve watched this since I was a little girl, and to hold this trophy is a dream.”

Second runner-up Miss Kanawha Majorette went to Anna Payne, of George Washington High School, and first runner-up went to Herbert Hoover High School’s Josie Moore.

For the third year in a row, GW’s Patriot Band took home the title of Festival Grand Champion, followed by Capital High School as runner-up and Nitro High School as second runner-up.

Eight schools competed in Tuesday’s event, comprised of hundreds of students. Color guard members twirled everything from umbrellas, rifles and skirts, to the traditional flags, while majorettes spun batons, hoops and prop machetes.

Some schools took the night to perform compilations of specific artists — like South Charleston High School’s rendition of a few Billy Joel songs, and Riverside High School’s mix of songs from composer Chuck Mangione.

Other schools took the opportunity to wow the audience with more performative pieces, like Sissonville High School’s program, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” which featured a mix of instrumentals highlighted by an electric guitar, and included feature twirler Brittany Chaffin and field commander Norman Fisher starting the show with a bit of acting.

Herbert Hoover High School also took a creative approach to Tuesday’s show, with a program titled “Where Does the Sunrise Begin?” which was comprised of songs relating to the sun. Weaved throughout the performance were narrative pieces, to which field commander Abigail Christian mouthed along, speculating on the sunrise, and color guard members dressed in shades of red, orange and yellow.

After all eight schools performed, the Pride of West Virginia — West Virginia University’s award-winning Mountaineer Marching Band — entertained the audience while judges deliberated on results.

As “Take Me Home, Country Roads” played, some of those in attendance sang along, while others cheered and took pictures. The entire audience clapped and joined into the “Let’s Go, Mountaineers” chant that’s heard at the beginning of every WVU football game. The Pride followed its pregame show with several selections, as attendees and students in the high school bands on the other side of the stadium cheered. The university band played a few selections directly to the students on the other side of the field.

The award ceremony followed, where each high school participating in the competition took home a number of bronze, silver or gold medals in eight categories, including feature twirler, general effect and band playing.

Caity Coyne is a corps member

with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Reach Caity Coyne at, 304-348-7939 or follow

@CaityCoyne on Twitter.

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