For Immediate Release: Jonathon Shaw, Director of Operations
The Mid East Performance Association is elated to announce a robust competitive schedule for the 2024 season, as well as several initiatives for students, teachers, and designers of the indoor community!
Starting January 27th, MEPA kicks off eight weekends of contests with over a dozen events in the southwest Ohio region, culminating with the MEPA Circuit Championships held at WSU's Nutter Center the first week of April. Building on the growth and success of the 2023 season, the Board of Directors and Administrative Team are fully committed to creating another great year for the indoor marching arts to all who participate. Several of the contests are already locked in with top-notch, premier WGI judging panels which will be revealed prior to the registration period. The 2024 Contest Season Schedule can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.
Registration for the upcoming season begins on Sunday, October 1st. Instructions can be found by CLICKING HERE. Ensembles will have the entire month to pay registration fees in preparation for Contest Registration taking place on Wednesday, November 1st. While groups can sign up for a contest anytime on or after that date, a handful of events are likely to reach capacity within a few short hours. MEPA anticipates welcoming over 100 groups and guests to join the excitement in 2024.
This year's theme: "Create Your Journey" will welcome experiences from designers, performers, volunteers, teachers, and others as they share the unlimited opportunities that can blossom along the pathway of performing and beyond. "In our off-season discussions, we really wanted to broaden the impact we could have on our membership, and not just the performers on the floor and their instructors" said Jodi Fairbanks, MEPA Board President. "By initiating this project, we'll be able to share with EVERYONE that there's no limit to what someone can do in the activity. Performers don't have to just stop performing and become instructors. They can immediately design costumes, plan events, mix soundtracks, or travel the country as a judge just to name a few possibilities."
The successful Judge Training program established in 2023 will return, and MEPA is in the developmental stages of an Instructor Training program with Educational Partners for the 2024 season.
More exciting relaunches include the redesigned "MEPA Mindset Day" which, for the first time since 2019, will welcome a panel of speakers and creative minds to lead discussions and seminars on a variety of topics for teachers, techs, directors, and designers. The date is scheduled for November 5th at Noon at Centerville HS. More information will be released in October.
The MEPA Internship program will also return in 2024 for young adults seeking knowledge, hands on experience, and a way to contribute their skills and passion while having a major impact with tangible results. More information is available by CLICKING HERE.
The Mid East Performance Association celebrates 30 Years of Excellence in 2024. To be a part of it, or to learn more, reach out to a member of the team by CLICKING HERE.
A Dayton native, Fred J. Miller was drum major of the band while at Chaminade High School and at University of Dayton. He met his future wife Marlene at a summer camp for baton twirlers and drum majors. After two years in the U.S. Army, Fred became director of bands at Fairborn High School.
A master showman, Fred hosted band festivals and competitions, was co-founder and first president of the United States Twirling Association in 1958, founded the Ohio Color Guard Circuit which would later become the Mid East Performance Association, and inducted into the Winter Guard International and Music For All Hall of Fames. Fred developed the Miller’s Blackhawks Musical Corps, which evolved into the Miller’s Blackhawks, co-directed by Fred and Marlene. It entered the winter guard world to become one of the most revered groups of the 1980s and 90s.
Fred and Marlene Miller’s Fred J. Miller, Inc. is a leader in pageantry uniform design and manufacturing, outfitting many of the world’s best marching bands, drum corps and winter guards. The creation of FJM allowed Fred to apply his eye for showmanship to marching uniform design and costume production, with Marlene designing flags and color guard outfits.
For their contributions to music education, the Miller Family was recognized as the Texas Bandmasters Association 2013 Music Industry Award winner. FJM is the proven leader of the marching pageantry world, outfitting Bands of America Grand National Finalists and DCI Finalists in FJM uniforms more than any other manufacturer.
Fred and Marlene were married for 53 years. Fred was 80 when he died in 2012. FJM remains a family enterprise, Marlene is President and CEO, and twin sons Mark and Mike Miller, daughter Mary Lynn Dorow and grandson Andy Dorow are all part of the family business. The impact of the Miller Family and Fred’s legacy continues through their industry leadership, college scholarships, and their support of music education.
In the history of the Mid East Performance Association, no organization has matched the continued tradition of success of the Miamisburg Winter Guard program. One of the founding members of Winter Guard International and MEPA, the program has brought international notoriety to the entire city of Miamisburg. The reason that the guard program has been so successful has been the leadership of Cathy Barnes-Miller.
In the fall of 1980, Cathy, then a teacher at Mound Elementary, was approached by new band director Robert O’Neil to take over the color guard program at the high school. Cathy had had a storied performing career as a member of the famed Miller’s Blackhawks organization. In short time, Cathy also started the winter guard program at Miamisburg.
It did not take long for Cathy to build a guard powerhouse at Miamisburg. In her third year as director, the guard won their first of fifteen circuit championships they would win under Cathy’s tutelage. By her fifth year as director, the guard had earned a place as a Winter Guard International World Championship finalist. In her time leading the high school guard, Miamisburg would earn a place in the highest division finals fourteen times.
Cathy’s finest achievements at Miamisburg reside in the three World Championships she earned, in 1991, 1992, and 1998. The group also finished second overall an additional five times, while also consistently placing in the upper echelon each year. The 1991 show, “Candle in the Wind,” is still considered by many to be one of the best and most influential shows in the history of the activity.
Upon retiring from the high school guard in 1998, Cathy then started the Miamisburg Elementary and Junior Guards, training the next generation of Miamisburg guard students. This allowed for Miamisburg to continue its unmatched legacy of success among Ohio color guards. In addition to her duties as a Miamisburg color guard coach, she also served on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee for WGI and in a leadership role with MEPA, helping to shape the activity into what it has become.
Upon retiring from teaching, Cathy has continued to teach color guard, but now to a completely different set of students. Cathy is the creator and founder of the Miami Valley Adaptive Color Guard, teaching color guard skills to students with special needs from throughout the Dayton area. This may end up being the most enduring part of her legacy.
Cathy Barnes-Miller is revered as one the most successful directors in the history of the Mid East Performance Association. She started a program that has won 40 of the last 43 circuit championships and is a 36 time world championship finalist at the highest level of the activity.
Congratulations to Fred J. Miller and Cathy Barnes, Class of 2023 inductees of the inaugural Hall of Fame!
MEPA Circuit Championships one month away!
This April 1st and 2nd marks the culmination of a tremendous season for the Mid East Performance Association. Hundreds of performances taking place at two different venues over the weekend-long event will showcase thousands of performers, allowing spectators to enjoy the best indoor pageantry that Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky has to offer.
With over 125 performances taking place at the Nutter Center and Northmont High School during the two day event, it’s certain to be one of the largest Circuit Championships MEPA has ever put on, all while hosting it at one of the premier venues in the activity.
While the tradition of competition and awarding medals to the highest scoring groups continues, MEPA is excited to announce that starting with this season Class Champions will receive a championship banner to hang, as well as a newly designed custom trophy. Both of these awards are proudly made with local talents and resources from Ohio. “When I saw the prototype of the new trophies, I knew that we’re onto something really special for our performers and ensembles,” said Jodi Fairbanks, MEPA President.
Another new addition includes Checkmate Photography, MEPA’s official photographer, who will be taking group and individual photos backstage to capture additional moments in addition to the action shots performers and their supporters have come to love.
Additionally, there are several new recognitions and enhancements coming to the MEPA Circuit Championships this season that will shine a light on members of our community. The highlight of these include inducting the inaugural Class of 2023 to the MEPA Hall of Fame. In addition to recognizing the significant contribution from some of our finest and sometimes unsung contributors, performers and spectators alike will be treated to new video boards in the arena and ways to cheer each other on around the concourse area, highlighting the 2023 campaign: BE CONFIDENT! MEPA will also continue its tradition of awarding over $2,000 in scholarships for performers through the generosity of FJM, Inc and other donors and sponsors.
Since taking on his role in 2021, Jonathon Shaw realizes that this monumental task has its challenges. “There are many details that go into making this magical event happen. We’ve really put the performers front and center at what MEPA does, and we haven’t held back at offering them some really unique and memorable experiences both at Championships and throughout the entire season,” Shaw said. "As Director of Operations, I'm dreaming big and trying to offer high quality events which is no easy task, but it’s been a beautiful organic process, one that really never stops growing. Even on our days and weekends off, the team has been full steam ahead at designing great events and experiences for our ensembles and spectators. Circuit Championships will be special for so many people.”
The Mid East Performance Association Circuit Championships will take place on Saturday, April 1st with the Color Guard Finals all day at the Nutter Center. Tickets are $20 at the door for Adults, $15 for Students and Seniors 62 and above, Children under eight are free. Running simultaneously is Percussion Prelims at Northmont High School. Tickets are $10 for all spectators. The annual contest wraps up on Sunday, April 2nd with the Percussion and Winds Finals at the Nutter Center. Tickets are $20 at the door for Adults, $15 for Students and Seniors 62 and above, Children under eight are free. Ticket Discounts for Students in groups of ten or more are available for both events at the Nutter Center by visiting MEPA’s website: mepa-circuit.org