John McLeod and the Trail Pipe Band practiced a number at the Trail Armories Monday night in preparation for Spring Fling

John McLeod and the Trail Pipe Band practiced a number at the Trail Armories Monday night in preparation for Spring Fling

Spring Fling joins weekend’s festivities

Annual event brings nine pipe bands into town for parade and fun competition

This weekend’s Silver City Days will offer a distinct Scottish flavour, as nine pipe bands from across the province march into town.

The Trail Pipe Band and the Trail Caledonian Society are hosting the 32nd annual Spring Fling, a fun competition that delivers a high note of entertainment.

“I’ve had people tell me that it isn’t a parade, if it doesn’t have a pipe band. And I’d just say, imagine if there was a parade and there was no band,” teased Gordon Titsworth, president of the Scottish band that has contributed to Trail’s festivals for nearly a century. “So enjoy this one that’s got 10 bands, with the Trail Maple Leaf Band coming through town, too.”

Featuring pipe bands from Nelson, Grand Forks, Kimberley, Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon, Saturday’s parade will kick off the five-part competition.

After drummers and pipers make an appearance in the festival’s parade through downtown Trail, which starts at 11 a.m., the pipe bands will make their way to Butler Park, where each will play a five-minute medley. Admission is free and the concession will be open, along with a beer tent run by the Trail Orioles’ senior baseball team.

“The power of the sound is incredible,” said Titsworth, referring to the mass performance. “You’ll probably hear us from the other side of the river.”

The bands will be judged musically on tone and unison, as well as dress and deportment for their involvement in the parade. Later, marks will be given for a dance routine and skit that will be performed at the Trail Memorial Centre during a dinner.

After the marks are tabulated, there will be an awards ceremony and concert put on by the Trail Pipe Band.

“I think this event will reinforce the concept of music as part of our community,” said Titsworth, who started playing the bagpipes at about 10 years old and has been active with the local band for a total of 25 years.

Beyond playing, the piper also takes joy in teaching others how to play for free – a fellow drummer also offers the same opportunity for those musically inclined.

“I love teaching and when I came back to the band after some time away there was nobody teaching and I thought, that’s a sure way that it doesn’t get any bigger,” he said. “It’s useful to show young people that it’s not peculiar for them to play music.”

The Trail Pipe Band is made up of 22 members from Trail, Warfield Rossland, Castlegar, Glade and Kettle Falls.

Though low membership was an issue in the past, numbers are growing and so is the band’s competitive presence.

“I take a look at the fabric of the community and the fact that our band is growing,” said Titsworth.

“But the tragedy is that there is very little music being taught in schools now and that to me is worrisome.”

The annual competition will attract about 170 players and their families to Trail for the weekend during the 47th annual Silver City Days.