Traveling strings and smiles

7th annual Ukulele Festival in Auburn
By: Julie Miller, Design and Content Manager
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The ukulele: “It travels well, is easy to play and it makes people smile,” said Sheryl Petersen, recreation services manager for Auburn Recreation District.

This small string instrument with its distinctive Hawaiian sound will be in the spotlight locally for the seventh annual, two-day Ukulele Festival.

The event launches with a concert featuring a headliner straight from the islands.

“This year we are flying Aldrine Guerrero in from Kauai,” Peterson said.

Guerreros’ playing style has been described as a mix of Hawaiian, classical, flamenco and pop.

The Dani Joy Trio, international singer and songwriter and featured artist of Ko’aloha Ukulele, will also be performing that evening. As a bonus, Dani Joy will direct the Peewee Ukulele Orchestra, a group of 8- to 14-year-olds.

The concert will take place Aug. 10 at the State Theatre.

The following day of the Ukulele Festival is devoted to learning the instrument and honing in skills.

Nine featured instructors including Joy and Guerrero will teach about a dozen workshops at the Canyon View Community Center. The instruction will range for beginners up to advanced players looking to hone in their ukulele strumming skills.

Workshops include such topics as: grasping the basics, how to write a song, learn and explore chords, and styles of playing such as flamenco, blues and Hawaiian.

After the workshops, the festival isn’t over yet. 

New for this year, a ukulele Jamboree will take place at Recreation Park.

“The Jamboree starts around 5:30 p.m., we pull up Hall’s (Towing) flatbed tow truck for a stage and away we go,” Peterson said. “The Jamboree is free to the public; just bring a chair or blanket. There will be some straw bale seating thanks to Echo Valley.”

The informal, and possibly spontaneous concert, will have open jam sessions, group performances and an open mic. To sign up a band for the performance, email Budd Snell at

Throughout the festival there will be drawings for free ukuleles.

Hundreds are expected to attend the festival. The first event had an attendance of 38 and last year there were 200, Peterson said.

“We grow each year, especially since we added the Friday night concert at the State Theatre in 2015,” she said. “We get local concert goers as well as folks who come in for the weekend festivities.”