DANVILLE — Despite menacing clouds over downtown Danville Saturday, thundering brass kept crowds upbeat.
"This time of year, it always storms," said Harry Nickens, 66, a volunteer at the Great American Brass Band Festival. "This is summer in Kentucky, and we're hoping the weather will hold out."
Lawn chairs littered the Centre College yard, site of the annual festival's main stage. In the parking lot, vehicles with license plates from Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and as far away as Massachusetts, baked in the humidity.
Attendees sampled vendors' hot dogs and musicians' blasting trumpets. In addition to the main stage at Centre, Weisiger Park gazebo off West Main Street featured music.
"This is great," said William Dixon, a retired band director from La Grange who came to the festival with his wife. "We were here years ago when it first started. I guess you could call us old hats."
Behind the main stage, the Canadian Staff Salvation Army Band members milled around Saturday with their instruments. Some polished their brass while others watched the sky for bursts of lightning. The U.S. 202nd Army Band finished its set and stuck around to listen to others.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Spc. Joshua Cole, 21, a member of the Army band. Under the direction of Staff Sgt. Kelly Diamond, the band was able to rehearse just a couple of times with its new conductor before performing in Danville. "Turnout is pretty good; it just doesn't look like as much because everyone is in the shade."
The Great American Brass Band festival brings in more than 30,000 people a year and strengthens the town's economy, according to organizers.
"This is the biggest event in Danville," Nickens said. "Though the weather typically does not cooperate."