KILCLUNEY Volunteers Flute Band hosted their annual band parade and competition in Markethill on Friday, June 7 and crowds came in their thousands to support the event.
The band had promised something special to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the reformation of the band after World War II and local people, bands and visiting spectators were certainly not disappointed after viewing and taking part in a musical carnival.
Cars, mobile caterers and stalls had positioned themselves around the parade route throughout the duration of the day, all trying to gain the best vantage point at what is now firmly established as one of the largest marching band competitions in the United Kingdom.
Such is the attraction of the event, many spectators now travel large distances to enjoy the parade every year. From early evening, crowds began to line the streets of the town and they witnessed a powerful display of music and colour from 52 marching bands of every musical genre.
In the parade build up, Kilcluney members distributed promotional gifts to the many families in the town before the main procession got underway just after 7.30pm, led by Tullyvallen Silver Band. A variety of accordion, pipe, silver, first flute and melody flute bands followed and they formed a continuous procession that took nearly three hours to pass.
County Armagh could boast an impressive 23 bands in the parade, with some other notable visitors travelling from Crawfordsburn, Enniskillen, Newcastle and Pomeroy.
The parade ended with the host band marching up through the town, with much of the crowd staying to see the popular local band, greeting Kilcluney with an enthusiastic response as they performed a selection of tunes. As part of the 70th Anniversary celebrations, the band paraded in a striking new shirt and tie combination.
Final proceedings of the night were the competition results, as ever judged independently by several outside individuals commissioned by Kilcluney.
With the large turnout, judging was always going to be difficult. However, the general consensus of the many hundreds who stayed for the presentations was that they were an accurate reflection of performances on the night.
Despite some heavy competition, pride of place was given to East Belfast Protestant Boys Flute Band who were presented with the Adrian Coulter Memorial trophy for Best Overall Band of the evening.
A spokesperson from Kilcluney Volunteers Flute Band commenting on the night said: “The parade has been another great advertisement for the marching band scene both locally and throughout the country and was a fitting celebration to mark the 70th Anniversary.
“The large crowds on show and the amount of children both enjoying the parade and taking part are a great indicator of the current vibrancy of the scene.
“Kilcluney would like to thank everyone who attended the parade and donated generously, ABC Council and the PSNI for ensuring that the event was both safe and enjoyable.
“Also, particular thanks must also be conveyed to the local people of Markethill who give tremendous support to the band, not only on the night but throughout the entire year.”
The dedication and commitment of members has ensured that both the band and the parade have continued to thrive. Tuition classes for the flute and drum sections commence at 8pm every Monday night at Kilcluney Orange Hall on Mowhan Road. All new members will be given a warm welcome, and the band will endeavour to organise transport if required.