The fifth annual Sunset Festival of Bands, hosted by Sumner High School, takes place later this month on October 26.
Last week, Patch shared a Q&A with founder and Sumner High School Class of 2009 graduate Mason Longnecker about how the event got started and why it's become such a popular band festival.
Though now a student at the University of North Dakota, Mason's passion for band while at Sumner and the community of supporters in the form of the Sumner Band Parents Association that helps keep the Sumner program successful, spoke to his mother, Peggy Longnecker, who continues to help to coordinate the band festival.
We asked Peggy about her dedication to the program.
What is your role with the band program now? What is your role with regards to the festival?
I only help with the festival at this point. I help coordinate the event and work with the Sumner Band Parents Association to help build the event into a successful fundraiser while maintaining a fun and educational experience for the bands.
Sumner's band program cannot be as successful as it is without the support of parents such as yourself. What got you involved in the first place? And five years after your son has graduated, what keeps you involved?
Mason is the reason I got involved with the SBPA. He talked me into attending meetings and got me involved. I graduated from Sumner ‘back in the day’ and was very involved in the choir. Music was a big part of my growing up and I wanted to support him and what he loved. The reason I’m still involved is Mason. I don’t want his dream to die because it means so much to him. If he weren’t in college in North Dakota, he’d be here putting the event together.
What did you think about Mason's senior project idea when he first conceived it? What was it like watching him plan and execute his vision?
I actually tried to talk Mason into doing something on a smaller scale. I thought he was very ambitious but worried he didn’t realize how much organization and work would be involved. I cannot express how proud I was of him pulling it all together and it actually raised money for the band in year one!
About the festival of bands, we understand schools have options in the fall to attend a variety of shows but several have stated they opt to come to Sumner because of its format (allowing for an initial practice run plus judging before they're in competition). Can you share more about what mades this festival unique compared with others?
Prior to the Sunset Festival of Bands, there was no known competition/event for marching band field shows that provided an educational session with the professional judges. It is very unique in nature. The band directors enjoy having the judges talk with the students. Many times, their comments reinforce what they tell their students. The students tend to take the advice to heart because it came from a professional. The limited number of bands keeps the event smaller in nature which allows us to add personal touches and make their experience at the festival fun as well.
Can you share your thoughts on the job Mr. Carl has done with the band program over the last 2+ decades?
Mr. Carl is amazing, as is Mrs. Carl who couches the Color Guard. Thank goodness they love what they do. They spend so much of their time making the band program at Sumner a well-rounded, educational and fun experience for their students. Their energy, patience and enthusiasm is absolutely astounding.
Is there anything else you'd like to emphasis?
Mason could not have had a successful senior project without the support and hard work of many band parents. In addition, the program would not have grown into the event we have this year without the countless hours, help and support of some very talented and devoted parents, Mr. Carl and the school district. We owe a huge thank you to every single person that gives of themselves to make Sunset Festival of Bands successful.
Why should people make the time to come down to the festival and spend the day in Sumner? What can they expect?
Who doesn’t love to watch a marching band perform? The music, the marching, the formations; it’s a fun day, unique to Sumner and inexpensive. If people come by 1:00pm, they will see a special treat. The Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder gives a special entertaining performance. After, Blue Thunder, the bands take the field again; this time performing for awards. It’s a musical, fun event suitable for all ages.
More Online: For more information, including ticket prices, visitwww.sunsetfestivalofbands.org.