Great American Brass Band Festival a go for this summer

The 2021 Great American Brass Band Festival is sounding a bugle call to all area music festival fans. A scaled-down version of the free, outdoor festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 11-12.

This will be the 31st GABBF since it was canceled last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive director of the festival, Missy Angolia said the board decided to “scale back” the annual event this year and make it more of a local festival with fewer people coming to town. Plus, organizing a smaller festival with just eight to 10 bands will make it easier to “pivot” to another date if the pandemic surges, she added.

“Outdoor events are very favorable” in the eyes of the CDC, so the board decided, “We want to try to present something this year,” Angolia said. And hopefully, the festival will bounce back to normal next year.

Having a smaller GABBF this year, several changes have been made from past festivals.

There will not be a Little Caesar’s Great American Balloon Race, nor the Great American Quilt Show this year. There will also not be a Brass Pass/hospitality room. A decision has not been made for the Chautauqua Tea that is normally held on Friday of the Festival. Friday evening, the Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County will sponsor a Gallery Hop downtown from 5:30-8 p.m.

The Great American Swing Dance, presented by the Boyle County Public Library will be 7-8:30 p.m. and, the festival intends to have a Gallery Hop After-Hours concert at Weisiger from 8-10 p.m..

“Saturday is going to be a popping little day,” Angolia said.

The annual Run for the Brass 5K will start at 8 a.m. and Yoga in the Park, sponsored by Plank begins at 8:30, both at Constitution Square Park. The Boyle County Farmers Market will also be in full gear at the park, Angolia said.

At 11 a.m. the traditional GABBF parade is set to march down Main Street. However, this year it will head in the opposite direction. Angolia said it will either begin at Maple Avenue or College Street and head east and end at Weisiger Park at Fourth Street where the concerts will take place.

Concerts will begin at noon on the concrete stage at the park and will last until 10 p.m.

Angolia said they are still lining up the bands, but festival goers should expect to hear a mixture of bands performing New Orleans jazz, classic ragtime, British brass music, a big band orchestra, and even the Advocate Brass Band will be on stage.

Main Street will be blocked between Third and Fourth streets, and Fourth Street will be blocked from traffic, possibly all the way to Broadway. Plans are still being ironed out, Angolia said.

Folks are asked to bring their own chairs, and if they have umbrellas or parasols to shade themselves from the sun, that would be good, too. However, tents and awnings won’t be allowed.

There will be between 40 and 50 picnic tables set up on Main Street in front of the courthouse from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday. They may be reserved for $150 and seat eight people. Those who reserve a table can use it all day and come and go as they please, Angolia said. “Their table is their table,” and will be roped off when it’s not being used, she added.

Along the Fourth Street side of Weisiger Park, food vendors will be selling their specialties. There will also be beer and wine tents where folks can enjoy a drink.

She said even though more people will have gotten the COVID-19 vaccination by June 11, visitors are asked to wear masks and social distance.

And they don’t have to mingle among the crowd. “People can bring their own chairs, food, and drinks, and it will be a minimally invasive outing.” She added, “Bring a sandwich, bring some water and make it your own experience.”

Volunteers will be wearing personal protective equipment and will sanitize the high-touch areas.

But the board realizes some people are still not ready to go out into a crowd during the pandemic. “We completely get that. So we’ll see them next year.”

“Nothing was decided lightly,” Angolia said. So having a smaller festival “was the best of both worlds.”

Since it may be hot that weekend, Angolia said festival goers can “take a break” and go inside the downtown restaurants for a bite and a cold drink and visit the air-conditioned shops. “Hopefully, it will be a good commerce day downtown,” she added.

The GABBF poster is being designed by Brandon Long who is the visual arts director for Danville’s Art Center of the Bluegrass, and there will be commemorative pins for sale.

“T-shirts are up in the air,” Angolia said. “Maybe we’ll have some masks, why not?”