The Ashe County High School Vanguard Marching Band received its Turkey Trophy from the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade on Jan. 8 — the band had been announced as the winner of the Battle of the Bands competition on Dec. 9, following a voting period that was opened on Thanksgiving and was available for a week.

The band’s drum majors, Julia Bassett and Katie Matheson, shared some insight about how winning first place in the Battle of the Bands really enhanced the band’s season.

“The parade was a lot of fun, we go down there every year and we came kind of close last year, but then we were beat by a Charlotte band. So, it was really exciting this year to get it, especially after such a successful season,” Bassett said.

The winner of the parade’s Battle of the Bands competition is determined by the number of votes each band that performs during the parade receives on a page located on the parade’s official website at

“I feel like band is something that’s kind of overlooked at the high school, it’s always sports and so to have the community support, it just really meant a lot,” Bassett said.

Matheson said that the band grew as their skill set improved, and overall the season was successful. She said how much the band boosters and parents helped contribute to their success.

Both Bassett and Matheson found the experience of receiving the trophy to be a lot of fun and both made remarks about the large size of the trophy. The news crew was energetic and danced along to the music the band played.

“They were cool people, it was exciting. It was an exciting experience,” Matheson said.

Aside from their accomplishment at the parade in Charlotte, the band has had success at other parades, competitions and has gained a great deal of distinction.

Two band members, Jordan Carlton and Joey Vela, were participants in the Macy’s Great American Band at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Carlton and Vela were accepted to perform with the band after auditioning by video.

They shared a bit about their experience and how they enjoyed meeting other band members from around the United States.

Carlton described participating in the parade in New York as being the opposite of what most people would imagine. From her perspective, it felt like being in a normal parade.

“It really wasn’t that scary, it wasn’t a lot of pressure because I was with all these other people, on street-level view. And we were on TV for like a minute, which is cool, but I think it was more cool than scary. It was a really good experience though,” Carlton said.

Vela described the experience as intense, but a lot of fun.

“It was like a full school day, but just practicing. It was super fast-paced, just doing drill all day,” Vela said.

The band’s director, Paula Carlton, provided insight about the marching season and about her future plans for her students.

The marching band started competition season by sweeping its class and earning the title of Grand Champion at Maiden High School. They continued to place first in their class at other competitions they attended.

The band also earned Superior ratings in all five competitions they participated in.

“We actually ended the season with 32 trophies, which is more than this program has ever accumulated in a season like that. So that was a record,” Carlton said.

Carlton described the parade in Charlotte as being special to both herself and her band because it is a tradition for them to attend every year and it also offers students with scholarship opportunities.

The parade gives out four scholarships in total and the Ashe County band received three of the four offered.

Recipients of the scholarships were Miguel Gaspar, Jordan Carlton and Tyler Domangue.

As far as upcoming events for the band, they plan to reinstate the Husky Vanguard Invitational Competition.

The band hasn’t hosted this competition in a few years and the decision was made to build it back up this year. Paula Carlton shared that many bands want to come to Ashe County to participate and they plan on starting up again on Oct. 10.

This semester focuses primarily on symphonic band, jazz ensemble and steel drum band. The three bands will be having numerous concerts and performing at a few festivals.

The marching band will be traveling to New Orleans in April and is scheduled to perform in the French Quarter.

Four students made the all-district band and will perform at Appalachian State University next month, while eight students were accepted into the East Tennessee University Honor Band which will take place next weekend.

Carlton expressed her passion for her job and how much she loves it. She also spoke about her vision for the band program and its future.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll end up retiring, but you know, I want to leave it strong. So that it’s built up and ready to go for the next band director because Scott Turnmyre, he’s pretty special to me and he and I started this thing. So I just want to leave it the way we started it, even better if we can which I think we’re on the way,” Carlton said.

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