Seventy-six trombones …

Jeff Genung

“Seventy-six trombones led the big parade, with a hundred and ten cornets close at hand …”

Or not. Not, anyway, in the case of the Firemen’s Parade at the opening of the Chenango County Fair Tuesday night. More like four trombones. And if I knew how to precisely identify a cornet, I’d say three.

That’s because our “big parade,” while big and certainly parade-ish, had only one marching band. One. From Laurens. The Laurens that’s not in Chenango County.

Granted, I didn’t brave the torrential downpour just to hear high school bands trot out a little Sousa or massacre some movie theme, but I did expect that there’d be more than one marching band in the parade. Or at least one from Chenango County.

As a self-proclaimed band geek, I marched at many a county fair (this county and several surrounding) under the Blackhawk banner back in the day. Following the extracurricular with avid interest in my post-high school years, I’ve certainly witnessed the steady decline of the form. Apparently, we’ve reached a point where not a single school in the county has a summer marching band anymore, and that’s sad.

Sherburne’s Pageant of Bands used to be the start of the season, and these days it’s the end. For many schools, it’s the one and only, save for perhaps a tepid Memorial Day appearance. I know there’s lots of reasons for the decline – budget and time constraints, competition from other interests, yadda yadda yadda – but I still think it’s a cryin’ shame that not a single Chenango County school – Norwich chief among them – can’t field a band for a parade which is supposed to represent the entire region.

Bagpipers are nice, but that ain’t a parade, folks.