Director: Brass Band Fest a success despite rain

Published 8:32 pm Monday, June 10, 2019

Although there are no preliminary headcounts back from this past weekend, the Great American Brass Band Festival’s director said he is incredibly happy with the turnout. Bill Bandy said the organization and spirit of volunteers working through stormy weather is a prime example of turning lemons into lemonade.

“Weather was something that we were laser focused on for the last two weeks,” Bandy said, adding anyone from Kentucky knows how quickly it can change.

Thursday night, the Gallery Hop and Great American Swing Dance went on as planned, with the dance being moved inside of the Boyle County Public Library.

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“I was amazed at how many people were downtown and the umbrellas that were out on the street,” Bandy said. Mimi Becker and “her crew” with the Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County did a tremendous job with the hop, he said, as well as the library with the swing dance, which had a packed floor for the night.

Bunny Scutchfield is having fun waving a small American flag and tossing candy in the parade. (Photo by Robin Hart)

A band was due to play out back of Plank on Main during the hop and was moved inside due to weather. “I don’t think there was a seat available,” he said, adding he was told downtown restaurants kept busy.

Friday afternoon, the Chautauqua Tea went off without a hitch inside of Centenary United Methodist Church. However, Bayou & Brass was a different case — it’s traditionally held on a closed-off Main Street, lined with vendors, with events for kids and bands.

Bandy said volunteer Jenny McClure kicked it into high gear, coming up with the idea of holding the event inside of the city parking garage on Walnut and Third streets.

“What a job she did,” Bandy said. He said she immediately enlisted the help of Danville Police Chief Tony Gray, who is chairman of the GABBF board, to make the location work. Director of Codes Bridgette Lester was also involved in the relocation, he said, since the point of sale for alcohol had to be moved.

“A lot of things behind the scene had to happen, and had to happen quickly,” Bandy said. He also credits volunteer John Albright, who he says was the point person to ensure things “were seamless” in dealing with logistics.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces,” Bandy said, from relocating vendors and transporting portajohns to setting up a new musical stage.”That’s what we do behind the scenes to make sure the folks who attend don’t even know they’re happening.”

The parking garage was eventually standing room only, all the tables filled with festival-goers who had hit food trucks and beer stations and were listening to bands set up just beside the structure.

“We did have rain, but everything was going as well as you could expect,” Bandy said. “I thought it was better than what I would have thought.”

He said the exercise of moving the event actually opened organizers’ eyes that there are “some facilities here in our wonderful town that can double in ways we never knew.”

Bandy said band directors and musicians were all “extremely pleased with how it turned out.” After Friday night’s festivities downtown, Bandy headed out to Pioneer Playhouse after its season-opener to perform with the band Powerplay for the after-party.

The sun made an appearance on Saturday, allowing Weisiger Park concerts and the Main Street Parade to go on as planned in some great weather. Some of the Main Stage concerts on Centre’s campus were also able to be performed, with the festival “pushing the envelope on trying to stay outside as long as we could,” Bandy said.

About 10 tables had gone up near the Main Stage for the picnic when the rain plan was put into effect around 4 p.m., he said. The picnic crowd was moved inside, where tables were set up at Cowan Dining Hall. About half of the band lineup played there, while other bands set up inside of Norton Center for the Arts.

Bandy said volunteers Janine Goldie and Rick Brown helped out immensely with the picnic. He said the move to the venues inside at Centre was made easy due to the pre-planning done. Centre employee Ann Young, and Nina Story and Steve Hoffman with the Norton Center for the Arts were incredibly helpful in making the inside venues happen, Bandy said.

The Community Arts Center’s art festival, to be held on festival grounds at Centre, was canceled due to weather for both Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, the church service and concerts were also moved inside to Norton Center for the Arts.

“Someone asked me Sunday what I thought of the festival — it’s not what I think. It will be the feedback from folks who attended,” Bandy said. “The feedback was very good. We were very fortunate to have those spots to use for Saturday and Sunday.”

Bandy said Mayor Mike Perros donated space not only for GABBF offices on Main Street, but also let them set up merchandise downstairs in the former Cue restaurant location. “We set up a pop-up store for merchandise down here, on Thursday night we joined the Gallery Hop and had artist John Dixon there signing posters,” which resulted in many visitors looking through T-shirts, posters and pins.

“It was wonderful. We didn’t have those sales last year,” Bandy said. “Friday night, we had a pop-up at Bayou & Brass too. Those two nights offset from a merchandise standpoint some of the loss from weather over the weekend. But there’s lots of those stories — turning lemons into lemonade.”

Monday morning, Bandy was sitting behind his desk in the GABBF offices. He had some invoices left to pay and a few loose ends to tie up, but mostly he had been working on a full page of notes he made for 2020’s festival.

“I had a lot of people ask me over the last couple of weeks — ’you’re about to face the battle, are you coming back for round two?’ Well, I couldn’t wait to get in here this morning and get started.”