WASHINGTON — For one of the judges at the Marching Panther Invitational last month at Washington Community High School, the competition was more like a homecoming.

Tim Allshouse, a 1988 Washington graduate who has been the director of the Blue Springs (Mo.) High School marching band, one of the country's top high school marching bands, since 2000, returned to his alma mater to work at the invitational and visit family.

Allshouse was impressed by the invitational and the improvements at Babcook Field.

"I judge high-level high school marching band competitions, and the Marching Panther Invitational was right up there with the best," he said.

"It's quite an accomplishment for a high school from a relatively small town in Illinois to put on something that's worthy of a national stage."

Allshouse hadn't been a judge at the Marching Panther Invitational for about 10 years. Since then, artificial turf has been installed at Babcook Field and new home bleachers have been installed.

"It looks like a brand new stadium," Allshouse said.

Allshouse still has many ties to Washington.

Jim Tallman, the high school's marching band director and the Marching Panther Invitational director, also is a 1988 Washington grad.

"Jim gave me a tour of the new (Frances Whittaker Center for Musical Arts)," Allshouse said. "It's quite a place."

Allshouse's parents, John and Barb Allshouse, live on Knollcrest Drive in Washington.

"My mom grew up in Washington and was in Frances Whittaker's band," Tim said. "She played alto sax."

The Blue Springs marching band is a recipient of the prestigious Sudler Shield.

The Golden Regiment is also a two-time Bands of America Grand National finalist and four-time semifinalist, and has performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

It also performed in the inaugural parade for President Barack Obama in 2009 in Washington, D.C.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.