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Bands will take the stage at showcase




With only four available spots, performers will need to bring their best to the High Plains Showcase to win.

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With only four available spots, performers will need to bring their best to the High Plains Showcase to win.

The High Plains Showcase, which is the result of a partnership between Rocking M Radio and Salina Arts and Humanities, is a new concert series taking place in Great Bend, Garden City, Colby and Hays.

Brad Anderson, Salina Arts and Humanities director, said the idea behind the showcase is to grow the Smoky Hill River Festival by attracting residents from western Kansas.

Even though the festival attracts people from many states, Anderson said they wanted to increase their regional marketing and button availability in western Kansas. But it's not solely based on attracting new faces to the festival, it's also about keeping people interested.

"Sundays, typically, for the local audience, have tended to slow down a little bit," Anderson said. "People have felt like they have seen everything, and for the benefit of the exhibitors, the food vendors and the entertainers playing on the stage, we'd like to see some larger crowds on Sundays."

In addition to larger crowds, Darren Irwin, general manager of seven Rocking M Radio stations, said they are trying to bring talent from western Kansas east.

While Irwin said groups that enter need to be in groups of two or more, there is no specific genre requirements, but they must fit with the family atmosphere of the festival.

"It's groups, bands, choirs, it's family entertainment in the spirit of the Smoky Hill River Festival," Irwin said. "Anyone can enter -- it's not just bands we are looking for."

The entry fee is $20 per concert event, plus the submission of an application.

Irwin said groups are welcome to enter to perform at multiple concert locations, but an entry fee is required for each.

Each group will be given up to eight minutes to perform original material.

All performances will be judged by festival representatives and music-scene veterans from the area.

Each winner from the four locations will be awarded a 45-minute slot on Eric Stein Stage beginning at 1 p.m. on Festival Sunday, a $500 contract from the festival committee and two rooms for one night in a hotel in Salina to use on the Saturday or Sunday of festival weekend.

Second- and third-place winners at each location will receive prize packages valued at $150 or more.

In addition to the concerts, Anderson said, there will be festival buttons available to fans in each community for $10 during the concerts, which is before the buttons become available to the general public.

"The festival is truly a unique experience that is worth exploring," Anderson said. "Once you come once, it's easy to come back, it's not a county fair. We would love to have some new individuals and families from that area out there; the more the merrier."