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Greater Atlanta Marching Festival returns Oct. 19
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If you love big sounds, big bands, and think the best part of a football game is at halftime, you won't want to miss the 36th annual Greater Atlanta Marching Festival, hosted by Rockdale County High School, Saturday, Oct. 19, gates open at 11 a.m.

This grand tradition is the perfect opportunity to relax in a game-time atmosphere and hear the best from bands around metro-Atlanta as they strut their stuff for a shot at the trophy.

RCHS Band Director Christopher Coleman said community support is essential to the success of the students and the bands. "Every student in their respective bands works very hard on their halftime show. Many, like the bands in our county, have been rehearsing since June and July to perform some of the most complicated marching band shows today.

"It’s not easy. Being involved in a marching band requires a lot of discipline, energy, and hard work. This is one of the reasons students involved in marching band tend to do well with time-management and experience much success in the classroom. They develop these life-skills in the marching band. With all of that being said, the students need to see their community supporting them doing positive things to enrich their community. These students are not somewhere doing drugs, being involved with gang activity, or wasting their life away doing nothing. They are building their school resumes for college, earning leadership experience, building the necessary skills to be fine citizens in their communities. They need the community’s support."

This year, more than 20 bands have signed up to compete in this all-day event. Bands from around the metro Atlanta, around the state and occasionally outside the state.

Coleman said, "Audience members will hear everything from latin music, classical, rock, movie themes, to Motown music. It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get."

Salem High School's marching band will compete this year with a performance at 2:50 p.m. 

Host band Rockdale County High School and the Valdosta State University Blazin' Brigade will also perform in exhibition.

RCHS's show this year brings back the classic sounds of Motown with "Motown: Yesterday, Today and Forever!" Selections include "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Dancing in the Street," "Get Ready," "Can't Help Myself," "I'll Be There," "Uptight" and "Dancing Machine."

The awards will be presented around 9:30 p.m. following the exhibition.

The Greater Atlanta Marching Festival is one of the biggest fundraisers for the RCHS Bulldogs marching band. The money will be used to buy better instruments, new uniforms, and other necessities. All 200-plus band members will benefit from this fundraiser, not just the marching band.

The competition will be at Reid Stadium, 1174 Bulldog Circle, NE, Conyers. Entrance fee is $10 for adults. Children ages 6-12 are $5. Children ages 5 and under are free.

For more information, go to