Competitors gearing up for slightly smaller Maxville entry
Chalk it up to a tough economy or the cancellation of competitions the day after at Montreal – or even the continuing all-consuming fixation on the World’s – but this year’s North American Pipe Band Championships at Maxville, Ontario, on July 31st will be a relatively smaller affair, with a total pipe band entry down by 14 per cent over 2009.
Some 46 bands are entered across five grades at this year’s Maxville, versus 54 last year – which also was down over several years in the mid-2000s with an entry of more than 60 bands. The two-day event, though, remains the world’s single largest-attended piping and drumming event in terms of total contests and competitors, taking into account the myriad solo competitions and hundreds of competitors in piping, snare drumming, tenor drumming and bass drumming.
In addition the event includes the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) solo competitions on Friday, July 30th, which in June were reportedly struggling for entries, but which have since rebounded, with more than 17 now registered for the Gold Medal competition. The events are held outside of the Maxville Games grounds.
The cancelation of the Montreal competitions is seen by many as a primary reason for the reduced entry to Maxville. The Maxville-Montreal weekend was considered by many across North American piping and drumming circles as the highlight event of the year, and Maxville still carries that cachet. Rather than staging piping and drumming and band competitions, the Montreal games organizers have chosen instead to pay several top-grade bands a flat fee to perform throughout the day before a beer-tent crowd.
Four Grade 1, eight Grade 2, 14 Grade 3, 10 Grade 4 and 10 Grade 5 bands are entered for the Maxville competitions. In previous years, lower grades were split into two heats to determine a final competition due to the large entry. There are no qualifying heats scheduled for 2010.
Most non-Ontario-based bands will choose to travel either to the North American Championships of the World Championships. Few have the resources to attend both events.
The Glengarry Highland Games – known simply as “Maxville” to most pipers and drummers – is modelled primarily after the Cowal Gathering, which traditionally compines band and solo competitions, Highland dancing contests and heavy events in a two-day festival. The World Pipe Band Championships, by contrast, focuses solely on band and drum-major competitions in a one-day affair that typically draws upwards of 220 pipe bands.
I work with the Montreal committee and I believe the reduction in entries at Maxville has more to do with bands going to Scotland than the cancellation of our competitions. We had contacted a number of regular attendees at Montreal (and Maxville) for our ‘concert’ program (which, by the way, is on a professional outside stage, NOT in the beer tent) to discover they were not going to Maxville because they were going to the World’s (i.e. Regins Police).