The school district decided this year not to pay the more than $10,000 to organize and bus seven bands to one school for the festival, which is normally held at the end of October. Last year’s event drew more than 2,500 people to Hagerty High School in Oviedo.
School Superintendent Bill Vogel said he is disappointed the event was canceled, but is hopeful the festival will go on next year.
“It's a spectacular event,” Vogel said. “We were looking at this year with budget reductions and saw the transportation costs. We are optimistic to restore the event next year.”
The musical showcase co-sponsored by the Sanford Optimist Club created an opportunity for the county’s eight high school marching bands to perform together in one location.
Bill Reinecke, music curriculum specialist for Seminole County, said the festival was special in Central Florida because it is not a competition.
“One of the really wonderful things about the festival is its noncompetitive feel,” Reinecke said. “This allows kids in each band a chance to socialize and meet other kids who are pursuing music.”
Cherie Heckford, president of Seminole High School’s band parent association, was disappointed the festival was cut.
“It’s a huge loss for the kids and schools,” Heckford said. “It is always such an amazing show.”
The festival has been traditionally scheduled two weeks before the Florida Band Masters competition in DeLand, when school marching bands receive district grades.
“The [Seminole County] festival was a dress rehearsal for the Florida Band Masters event,” said Reinecke, who is also the assistant band director at Lyman High School. “A lot of band directors see the Florida Band Masters as an assessment like FCAT. It sets our standards and grades our performance.”
High school bands also used the event as a fundraiser through ticket sales. The festival rotated among the eight public high schools with bands, allowing every school a chance to raise money for its marching band by selling concessions during the event. This year’s festival had been scheduled to be held at Lake Howell High School. The Sanford Optimist Club also donated a $125 scholarship to each band and a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior.
Audrey Ogden, organizer of the event for the Sanford Optimist Club for the past 10 years, wants to make the festival more cost-effective and reach out to local governments in Seminole County for funding.
“The club is in the process of drafting a letter to the cities in the county to gain support for next year,” she said. “It has been a great event for the kids and the community. I think kids involved in things like this don't get in trouble and for that alone we need to keep it going.”