One top-notch Saturday night performer, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band of New Orleans, will be the finale act. "The stars and moon aligned just right to have all these people here," she said.
Hammonds likes Dirty Dozen Brass Band because it has universal appeal.
"They don't just play New Orleans jazz, they cover the gamut of music. They do Motown, but it has that New Orleans twist to it."
Spanish Brass, a quintet that first appeared in 2001, also performs Saturday night. The group actually got the ball rolling for this year's appearance.
"They are one of the top brass quintets in the world today, so for them to ask to come back is great," Hammonds says.
People attending the picnic should make sure they have a blanket for sitting on and maybe another for covering up in the cool evening air. "Everybody needs to get there early and plan on staying until the last note," says Hammonds, noting that the evening includes the Dixie Power Trio and Brass Band of Columbus with soloist Philip Smith, principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic.
As a matter of fact, Danville is the place to park it for Thursday through Sunday.
"We're trying to make it so people don't leave that weekend," Hammonds says.
Wine tasting at Old Crow Inn
The popular Thursday Chautauqua and Friday balloon race are planned, but some new events join the lineup. The first of the new offerings is a wine tasting Thursday at Old Crow Inn after the Chautauqua.
"Just Kentucky wineries are invited," Hammonds says, noting six or seven wineries are on board. Tickets are $20 per person and are available at the door.
On Friday, the history conference now counts as a six-hour professional development credit for music educators.
"This is thrilling for me as an educator to be able to offer that," Hammonds says.
In addition to joining the stage with the Brass Band of Columbus, Smith will share his expertise in a master class for student musicians 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday. Cost is $10 for students and $20 for others.
A new group this year is the Atlanta Trumpet Ensemble, a group of about 20 high school and college students. DiMartino highly recommends them.
"We're happy to have a younger group. We really want to appeal to our high school and college age," Hammonds says.
Music lovers from all over expected
Hammonds says they expect music lovers from all over to attend. The brochures about this year's event were available in mid-December for distributing at a booth at the Midwest Internationals Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, a gathering of some of the best professional musicians in the world. About 2,000 brochures were given out. "We had a group from Japan who came up to us and said, 'Oh, the Brass Band Festival, yes, yes.' It truly is world-renown."
Although the festival may be revered in Japan, Hammonds says its reputation needs to be built up in the bluegrass. To aid in that effort, Friday's concerts will include one by the Spanish Brass at Joseph Beth bookstore in Lexington.
"We discovered that people in Japan know about us, but people in Lexington don't," Hammonds says.
The 14 groups on tap will spread out Friday night with Dick Domek performing at the balloon race and U.S. Army Field Band Chamber Brass Quintet of Washington, D.C., paving the way for the New Olympian Brass at Weisiger Park. Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg features Dixie Power Trio and Atlanta Trumpet Ensemble.
Hammonds says when the extra events are combined with the festival's traditional offerings of history conference, gallery hop, pancake breakfast and parade, it's a must-see event.
"People need to come. It's not going to be the same festival from the last two to three years," Hammonds says.