Marching band, pub crawl band returns to Aggieville for back-to-school celebrations

K-State Marching Band plays in Aggieville to kick off the semester on Aug. 21, 2021. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

In the past, the Kansas State pub crawl band performed in bars and restaurants around Manhattan the Friday night before home games. After halting the pub crawl because of COVID-19, the tradition is starting back up this year, with members of the community excited for its return.

Riley Seuser, senior in marketing, said she enjoys the pub crawl because it gets people in Manhattan ready for football games in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“I think it is a good initial spark into the semester after last year,” Seuser said. “A nice kickoff to the year and getting people ready for football season, to ‘Refill the Bill.'”

The pub crawl has been a K-State tradition for over 20 years, growing from one band to three.

“We have three separate pub crawls going around — one is going to Aggieville, another one at Poyntz Avenue and another travels to places like Powercat Sports Grill, Colbert Hills, Mr. K’s and Old Chicago,” Frank Tracz, professor of music and director of bands, said.

Turner Ramsey, junior in management information systems, plays tenor saxophone for the marching band and is starting his first year with the pub crawl band. Videos from previous pub crawls sparked his interest in the tradition.

“I always watched videos of pub crawl on Facebook Friday nights my freshman year,” Ramsey said. “It always looked like a blast, and I love the idea of getting people hyped in ‘The Ville’ the night before the game.”

Each pub crawl band features 20 band members, with the Classy Cats joining to perform in 40 establishments around Manhattan each home-game weekend. The pub crawl was originally a chance event started by Tracz.

“More than 20 years ago, it was a Friday night [and] we had lost a game or two in a row in football that we weren’t supposed to lose, and everyone was down,” Tracz said. “I said, ‘Man, if I was in this band, I would get some of my buddies, go down in Aggieville and stop in the middle of the street and play the Wabash or fight song and run away just to spark everyone up.’ … The whole band did go down to Aggieville, stop traffic and play, and it was just nuts.”

Many local establishments started calling to ask the band if they could perform for customers before games.

“Suddenly, the restaurants and bars started calling asking, ‘Hey, could you come in next Friday night?'” Tracz said. “One thing led to another, we have three bands and about 40 establishments that we play in now.”

Ramsey said he is most excited to play the Wabash to see how involved the community gets when they hear the song.

“I always love playing Wabash because no matter what people are doing, they immediately drop everything and start ‘Wabashing’ back and forth,” Ramsey said. “It’s a great tradition, and I’m privileged to be able to take part in it.”

Tracz said he had no idea the Manhattan tradition would last for over 20 years.

“It was just one of those things I thought they would do for one day and nothing would happen, but it took off,” Tracz said.

The marching band announced the return of the pub crawl through Twitter on Aug. 18, 2021.