Festival is a badge of honor for whole community

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

It’s one day away. The Great American Brass Band Festival kicks off tomorrow, and this is a huge year for Danville-Boyle’s signature event — it’s the big three-zero.

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For 30 years, we’ve been pulling musicians and music fans from around the world to Danville’s Main Street and Centre College’s campus. And for many of the more recent years, that draw has expanded into the region, with events that have been hosted in both Mercer and Lincoln counties.

Once this year’s festival is over, organizers will be pondering a different kind of expansion — instead of new locations during the festival, there could be new events that happen at other times during the year.

Further growth of the festival is good for the local economy in more than one way. There’s a direct tourism impact of the festival, usually measured in millions of dollars, from the money spent by all the people coming to Danville. There’s also an indirect economic development impact, because the festival puts Danville and Boyle County on the map in a way they wouldn’t be otherwise.

Quality of life is increasingly a major consideration of employers looking to expand, because they’ve discovered it’s one of the best ways to attract and retain quality employees. A city that’s thriving enough to put on a four-day festival with international reach is one that gets on short lists for business projects that other cities can’t.

Besides the economic benefits, the festival is also good for our local communities, because it gives us something we have in common, a shared piece of culture.

The festival has been huge since it began — it brought tens of thousands of people here in its very first year. That was because the community bought in and everyone decided to take some responsibility for making it great.

Danville and Boyle County each gave $5,000 in funding for the 1990 festival, as did a huge number of local businesses. The hot air balloon race was conceived of and implemented by the local radio station, WHIR. The community similarly came up with the Chautauqua Tea event that always kicks things off on Thursday. The Advocate-Messenger, which helped form the Advocate Brass Band and the festival, began its annual Brass Band publication that very first year, too.

There was a “mini-festival” in Junction City that first year; foreshadowing airbnb, the Chamber of Commerce recruited local residents to rent out their rooms to incoming tourists; a local realtor gave away flower seeds earlier in the year with the goal of making Danville look like a giant flower bouquet for the festival.

The Brass Band Festival didn’t just happen; the community members of Danville and Boyle County made it happen. And we’ve continued to make it happen every year since for three decades. It’s something everyone can be proud of.