November 03, 2019

Grade 5 bands could win more than the World Champion at September Oklahoma contest

The Scotfest Highland Games in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, near Tulsa on September 19, 2020, will offer prize and travel money in its Grade 5 band competition that’s more than what Inveraray & District received for winning the 2019 World Championship.

At the November 2 annual general meeting of the Midwest Pipe Band Association, the Oklahoma games announced that it will host the first American Grade 5 Pipe Band Championship, an MWPBA Champion Supreme Event for Grade 5 bands and soloists. No other pipe band grades will be offered. Prize money will be $2,000 for first, $1,500 for second, $1,000 third, $800 fourth, $600 fifth, $400 sixth and $200 for seventh, along with $350 (all dollar figures in US currency) for bands traveling more than 100 miles.

First prize for the winner of Grade 1 at the World Championships was £1,500, or about $1,900. With the Grade 5 winner walking away with $2,350, or more than £1,800. The World’s does not provide any travel stipend to competing bands at any level.

According to MWPBA president Jim Sim, requirements for the Grade 5 event will be the normal quick march medley, as stipulated under association rules.

“This is a real chance for Grade 5 bands to shine on their own,” Sim said. “The Tulsa Games wanted to offer something a little different. Most of the bands in that area are Grade 5 bands to begin with. Instead of offering the same money but splitting it up and into, say, three different grades and getting poor attendance, they thought this would make their contest unique. It is at the end of the season and should be a fun weekend for the Grade 5 bands. It should really give the Grade 5 bands from all over something to point to.”

He added that a full Amateur Solo Piping event will also be held on the morning of the Oklahoma games, and more details will be available from the MWPBA.

The MWPBA’s AGM held at the Scottish Home in North Riverside, Illinois, was broadcast via Facebook Live, and Sim reported that the organization’s band membership is its highest level in more than a decade, with solo members also increasing.

The Chicago Highland Games, next year scheduled for June 19-20, enjoyed increased attendance, and was the largest Grade 2 band competition in North America, with eight Grade 2 bands and more Grade 4 bands than were attracted to the North American Championships as Maxville, Ontario.

It was also announced the highly successful Terry McHugh Memorial Competition for amateur solo pipers will continue to have up to six qualifying events, with top three contestants invited to the Chicago “Day of Piping” on May 2, 2020, which will also feature the Ian Swinton Open Solo Piping Competition. The top three finishers in the Grade 4 Juniors, and any players who place in the top three in Grade 3 age 17 or younger will receive online instruction from the world’s top players and teachers. First place will receive four lessons, second place three lessons, and third place two lessons. The education prizes were donated by Dave & Kathy Bruning of the Robert Irwin Piping Scholarship.

“This is all in an effort to continue to support young pipers in the area,” Sim added. “The regional contests will start at Winter Storm in Kansas City and continue throughout the winter and early spring. Generous cooperation has been received from many of the top players and Instructors in the world to assist with this.”

The news is the latest in a series of advancements made by the MWPBA in the last five years, including teaching and competition initiatives, expanded prize money, and the significant growth of the association’s marquee Chicago games.

Correction: This article originally reported that the 2019 Chicago attracted more competing bands than the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario. This is incorrect. Maxville remains the largest overall competition by number of competing bands. We apologize for the error.



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