Tens of thousands of dancers, flag twirlers, percussionists and other performers, along with their mentors and family members, are converging on the Dayton area to compete over the next two weekends in the 2018 Winter Guard World Championships.
This will be the 41st anniversary for the two-weekend event. It draws one of the largest crowds to the area, bringing in an estimated $20 million to the region, according to the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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Overall, 628 groups, more than 15,000 participants, will compete in color guard, percussion and winds championships this weekend and next, according to Crystal Walker, WGI Sport of the Arts marketing manager.
A total of 341 color guards will compete, starting with preliminary qualifying rounds Thursday and finals being held Saturday.
Those teams hail from schools and independent organizations in at least 34 states, as well as Canada and the Netherlands, Walker said.
“Groups work all season towards their performances this weekend,” Walker said. “Their overall show will be the same each performance, but they may make minor tweaks from performance to performance.”
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Making the trip to Dayton is one of the biggest hurdles for many of the teams, Walker said.
“Especially those located on the west coast or in other countries,” she said. “Some groups fundraise for years to make the journey.”
Percussion teams and winds musicians from across the U.S. and other countries will arrive next week, as competitions proceed from Thursday to Saturday, April 19-21, for percussion performances, April 21-22 for winds competitions.
Events are being held at five locations in the Dayton and Cincinnati regions: University of Dayton Arena; Dayton Convention Center; Wright State University Nutter Center; Cintas Center at Xavier University; and the BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University.
Tickets for the color guard competitions went on sale this morning and can be obtained by calling the UD Box Office (937) 229-4433. Tickets for the percussion and winds events can be ordered by calling (866) 589-7161. For more details, visit wgi.org.