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Festival takes a soaking and keeps going

Storms held off for much of the day Saturday, but heavy rains did eventually arrive, forcing Great American Brass Band Festival concerts inside for the rest of the day.

In the Norton Center, festival attendees filled the orchestra pit seating and some overflowed into the balcony for a concert by the festival’s seminal band, the Advocate Brass Band.

After the band got everyone on its feet with the National Anthem, former Advocate Brass Band Director Lydia DiMartino and Bruce Caudill sang a local take on “With A Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles, with the title “A Little Pepper For My Sergeant” and lyrics about George Foreman, a lead founder of the Brass Band Festival.

Weather was less than friendly to the festival this year, as rain plans had to be put in place for part or all of all four days, and the hot-air balloon event had to be canceled entirely. Despite many events moving inside, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jennifer Kirchner said on Tuesday that she had seen strong attendance, including people standing shoulder to shoulder in the city parking garage for Bayou and Brass on Friday. That proves the festival’s strength to attract people even during bad weather, when other festivals might not get many attendees at all, she said.