DANVILLE — The "king of instruments" — the trombone — takes its throne at the center of this year's Great American Brass Band Festival.
Brass bands and global experts on the "bone" — one of the oldest instruments in the world, known for its long curved slide and warm tenor sound — are planning to attend the 24th annual festival in Danville.
Committed to bringing the best brass bands of the world to its stages, this year's festival features more than 14 bands and soloists including popular solo jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, the nationally acclaimed U.S. Army Field Band and Chorus, and the Canadian Oshawa Temple Band of the Salvation Army.
"It takes a lot of focus and over a year to plan it to make sure we have a variety of activities that interest people," said Niki Kinkade, executive director of the festival.
Besides music, hundreds of vendors and volunteers will take over the Boyle County seat for the three-day festival. This year's focuses are on developing more activities for the children's center and improving festival-wide food options, Kinkade said.
The festival is now Kentucky Proud-certified and is focusing on naturally grown food.
Food vendors include food trucks from Lexington and Louisville and Danville vendors serving New Orleans-style cuisine.
"We will continue to grow that area so it's not just carnival food," Kinkade said.
For children at the festival, an American Girl story time, craft hour and various activities with Blue Grass Pride are a few of the activities that can be enjoyed.
"Our intentions are to grow it to be a very large area where we actually have a children's stage with performers," Kinkade said.
The children's center may not have a stage yet, but the Instrument Petting Zoo is one of the places where students can try out the many instruments at the festival and test their musical knowledge.
Signature events of the festival start Friday with Bayou and Brass, a New Orleans-style street party with hurricane cocktails, beer and lots of Louisiana street food and bands.
Saturday is the main street parade that goes downtown and directly leads into the bands on the main stage at Centre College.
The culminating event is the picnic on Saturday evening, in which all of the biggest bands play to a field of picnic tables and blankets.
The grand finale of the festival takes place Sunday at the Norton Center for the Arts after a Sunday morning church service by local pastors.
"We're real excited about this year and also excited about our 25th anniversary next year and intend to do some really big things and really focus on our community and how to showcase our community to the folks in town," Kinkade said.
IF YOU GO
Great American Brass Band Festival
What: Annual festival celebrates its 24th year with the year of the trombone.
When: June 7-9. For a complete schedule, visit Gabbf.org.
Where: Downtown Danville and Centre College
Learn more: (859) 319-8426, Gabbf.org