Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday, June 15 - Hot Brass and Hot Air

Day Two of the Great American Brass Band Festival was absolutely perfect. We went into Danville, to Centre College and the main stage, just in time to hear the Advocate Brass Band play. This is the band, started by a former editor of the local newspaper, the Advocate-Messenger, 21 years ago. Two years later, they organized the festival, which today draws between 30,000 and 40,000 people to Danville for three days. It must contribute millions to the local economy, what with people buying souvenirs, and shopping, eating, and staying locally, and buying gas to get home again.

We stayed, under nearly cloudless skies with temperatures in the upper 80s, to hear the Advocate Brass Band as well as the US Air Force Reserve Band, for two hours of great music. The entire audience got to its feet as the Advocate band played "Stars and Stripes Forever" -- a perennial favorite, and basic to the repertoire of any band which would even CALL itself a brass band.

When the Air Force band came on, they began with the National Anthem, which was done beautifully. They played some marches, overtures, show tunes, and ended with a medley of military service songs -- as each song was played, the colonel/director asked members of that service to stand and be recognized. They passed through the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and of course, the Air Force. I was surprised at how many women stood!

We left as they finished, and because we had parked only two blocks away, were able to get out of town quickly. We stopped at Arby's, then a quick trip to Wal-Mart to buy a new memory chip for my camera, as I had nearly filled the chip I had brought.

Then we headed for the Great American Brass Band Balloon Race, down in Junction City (about 3 miles from here), at the county airport. Here it was really hot because of the openness of the airport. They don't plant trees along the runway for shade. Anyway, what a thrill to see 25 multicolored hot air balloons be assembled, fired up, and rising above the crowd. The race was a "hound and hare" race, where the lead balloon lifts off, and somewhat later, touches down, painting a large "X" wherever they land. The other balloons have to try to get as close to the "X" as they can, dropping a bag of (most appropriately) Kentucky Blue Grass seed. The record a couple of years ago, was 13 INCHES from the target.

Well, 'twas not to be this year. The lead balloon headed west toward Stanford, and as the other balloons inflated and launched -- ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY MAGNIFICENT SIGHT -- the wind shifted. We heard about half an hour later that no one even came close to finding the touch-down point! So the prize money was simply going to be divided among all the participants.

I can't tell you some of the words I was thinking to describe this scene, but it was one of the most thrilling and beautiful scenes I've ever witnessed! The weather was absolutely summer-perfect, and it was a fantastic time.

Oh, I forgot to mention -- the memory chip from Wal-Mart -- wrong size. So back to Wally World after the race to exchange. I fill up the chip quickly when I take video, so for our upcoming trip to Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains, I'm going to bring the actual, honest to goodness video camera!

Also need to mention that we picked up 2 gallons of milk for $5.00. There's no milk commission here to keep prices artificially high, and Kroger's was selling it at that price, so Wal-Mart matched it.

We're totally exhausted now after being on the go since Friday night. Tomorrow have to get back to W-M to pick up the lawn tractor so we can mow -- haven't done that for 2 weeks and it's beginning to get ragged. What a great Father's Day weekend -- with both of us either JUST getting or anticipating a new grandchild!

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