Lawrence will become something of a Mecca for marching bands Saturday, for the first Heart of America Marching Festival.
Twenty-seven Kansas and Missouri high school bands will compete in a downtown parade and on the field at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium as part of the festival.
"It's the largest marching festival ever held in Lawrence," said Bob Foster, Kansas University's band director.
Foster, who hopes the festival will become an annual event, said it is similar to KU's Band Day, which brings in bands from all over Kansas. However, in this festival the bands will compete.
"It's a lot more than just a parade and marching show," Foster said.
"This will be a lot more competitive from the standpoint of quality.
"Some of the bands that will be in the parade are real high-quality competition parade bands. In Missouri, they have a lot of parade contests in the fall, and their bands really specialize in that. A number of those really good parade bands will be here on Saturday."
THE EVENT is to begin with a downtown parade at 9 a.m. Saturday beginning at Seventh and Massachusetts streets. Bands will march south on Massachusetts, ending the parade at 11th and Massachusetts.
Buses will take band members to Memorial Stadium, where they will perform on the field, beginning at 10:15 a.m.
"There will be a different band every 15 minutes," Foster said. The bands will take a 30-minute break at noon and a 15-minute break at 3 p.m.
The KU Marching Jayhawks will present a special exhibition performance at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, he said.
The festival is an outgrowth of a competitive marching band program KU had for several years, Foster said.
During the parade and the field competition, three judges will be scrutinizing the bands, he said.
They are Ed Lisk, Oswego, N.Y., immediate past president of the National Band Assn.; Roland Barrett, University of Oklahoma Marching Band director; and Doug Watts, music coordinator and band director at Blue Springs, Mo., High School.
THE BANDS also will compete in the field show, where they will perform marches usually seen during football halftime shows.
The festival includes competition in percussion, flag, drill team and twirler performances, he said.
Admission will be charged for entry to the stadium.
In case of rain, the parade would be canceled, but the field competition would be moved to KU's Anschutz Pavilion, Foster said.
However, Foster said he thought the weather would cooperate with the parade and festival.
"I think we're going to be OK," he said.