Central States Marching Festival Features High School Bands From Across the Region


MANHATTAN — While the ‘Cats are away, the bands will play.

On Saturday, Sept. 28, while the Wildcats play in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the cheers coming from Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be for high school marching bands from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma participating in Kansas State University’s annual Central States Marching Festival.

Known as one of the premier marching band festivals in the region, the festival will feature 36 high school marching bands taking part in clinics with members of the Kansas State University Marching Band staff and presenting field performances judged by a panel of nationally recognized marching band professionals. The bands will receive individual clinics with members of the video critique panel after their field performances and obtain a rating of superior, excellent or good by class with accompanying awards. The critiques emphasize the positive aspects of each band’s show. The categories used in judging include repertoire, performance, coordination, auxiliaries and music.

General admission to the Central States Marching Festival is $10, or $5 with a student ID.

Band clinics will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium. Field performances start at 11:45 a.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and will run throughout the day and evening, capped off with a performance by the Pride of Wildcat Land, the Kansas State University Marching Band.

Judges for this year’s festival are David Betancourt, director of bands at Cerritos College; Larry Blocher, director of the School of Music at Troy University; Keith Beardon, retired band director at Texas Tech University; Christian Carichner, associate director of bands and director of the marching band at Iowa State University; Kelsey Gleason, color guard instructor; Aric Hageman, band director at East High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Jim Hudson, director of athletic bands at Arizona State University.

The following schools are taking part in this year’s Central States Marching Band Festival. A full schedule on clinic and performance times will be available at

Northern Heights High School, Allen; Derby High School, Derby; Dodge City High School, Dodge City; Eudora High School, Eudora; Garden City High School, Garden City; Eisenhower High School, Goddard; Great Bend High School, Great Bend.

From Greater Kansas City: Turner High School, Kansas City; Olathe West High School, Olathe; Blue Valley North High School, Blue Valley Northwest High School, Shawnee Mission West High School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School, all in Overland Park; and Mill Valley High School, Shawnee.

Halstead High School, Halstead; Independence High School, Independence; Junction City High School, Junction City; Lansing High School, Lansing; Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth; Liberal High School, Liberal; Louisburg High School, Louisburg; Lyons High School, Lyons; Maize High School, Maize; Manhattan High School, Manhattan; McPherson High School, McPherson; Rose Hill High School, Rose Hill; Salina South High School, Salina; Shawnee Heights High School, Tecumseh; Seaman High School, Topeka; Wamego High School, Wamego; and Wichita Heights High School, Wichita.

From out of state: West Platte High School, Weston, Missouri; Lincoln Northeast High School and Lincoln Southwest High School, both in Lincoln, Nebraska; and Enid High School, Enid, Oklahoma.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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