It was an almost picture-perfect day – complete with temperatures in the low 70s, a light breeze and clearing skies – for the 69th Annual Sherburne Pageant of Bands Parade held Saturday, June 2, and drawing a large crowd to line the streets of the usually peaceful Chenango County village.

Sponsored by the Sherburne Fire Department and hosted by Sherburne-Earlville Central School, the pageant brought musicians from more than 30 schools around New York State for a variety of competitions that began Thursday, May 31, and concluded with the parade and an awards ceremony Saturday afternoon.

The idea for the pageant was brought to Sherburne by the late Albert Whitney, a fireman, and the late Frank L. Miller, band director. The event has grown into three days featuring jazz, ensemble, concert band, drum line, and color guard competitions, as well as the grand parade held Saturday in the village.

Before the parade began its way up Route 12, long-time Sherburne resident Joe Ray was honored as this year’s Person of the Day. After coming to Sherburne in 1972, Ray joined the Sherburne Fire Department in April 1988 and served as its treasurer from 1989 to 1994. He also served as scoutmaster for Sherburne Boy Scout Troop No. 66 for 25 years and is currently commander of Sherburne American Legion Post No. 876. Ray, who along with his wife Pat raised two sons, retired from Blue Seal Feeds after 35 years as a tractor-trailer driver.

The parade stepped off at approximately 1 p.m. and first in the line of march were the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, a group of motorcyclists that takes part in events honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.

The first band to appears was the Sherburne-Earlville Elementary School Band, followed by the SECS High School Band. The bands were both unable to compete but showed their talents for all along the parade route to enjoy. Among the other local competitors were groups from Norwich, Waterville, Edmeston – sporting new uniforms, Oxford, and Richfield Springs schools and more. Making their first appearance in the Pageant of Bands was Class C Dundee Central School who made the trip from Yates County to compete in Friday’s jazz ensemble and small ensemble competitions, as well as Saturday’s concert band competition and the parade.

Bringing the parade to a close was an exhibition performance by the Empire Statesmen Drum and Bugle Corp. Based in Rochester, the Empire Statesmen are 5-time DCA [Drum Corp Associates] champions and were the only all-age corps to place in the top four of the DCA finals from 1988 to 2011.

The awards ceremony at Marauder Stadium concluded the three days of competition and was highlighted by the presentation of a plaque by SECS Superintendent Eric Schnabl to SECS band director Jeff Manwaring who is retiring this month. Schnabl honored Manwaring for his “18 years of dedication to Sherburne, the Pageant of Bands, and just the fact that he is a great guy.”

Plans are underway for next year’s Pageant of Bands, traditionally held the first weekend in June. For more photos of this year’s event, visit or look for Mid-York Weekly on Facebook.