Uke U was a three-day festival dedicated to “Fostering the Spirit of Aloha through Friendship and Ukulele Music.” It featured 15 workshops, a Luau and Hawaiian entertainment on Friday evening, and a Saturday night performance by great musicians.
Over 100 folks attended the first Uke U, with most camping in tents or RVs at Runway Ranch. At the end of the festival we were pleasantly surprised to find we had a small surplus, enough to have seed money for Uke U-2. We were able to purchase 40 ukuleles for use by young people in the area and created a program, which we called “Ukes for Youth”.
July 19-21, 2013
Uke U-2 was again held at Runway Ranch. This time there were over 20 workshops, as well as great evening performances, and again we closed the festival on Sunday morning with “Mathew, Mark, UKE and John”, a gospel flavored sing-along that has become a highlight of the festivals. More people came, and we were able to actually pay the presenters for their work. We again had some money left at the end of the day and were able to purchase more ukuleles for the Ukes for Youth Program.
July 18-20, 2014
Deschutes County Fairgrounds
With the BUGs group growing and the success of two previous festivals at Runway Ranch, planning for Uke U-3 was well on its way when the County cowboys said “Whoa!” ~ we were told we could not hold the festival at Runway Ranch.
After weeks of unsuccessful wrangling, our great friend and benefactor, John Hancock, died unexpectedly. On the verge of cancellation, we were contacted by Bill Milem, producer of a weekly “Street Fair” at Deschutes County Expo Center. Bill invited us to hold Uke U at the Fairgrounds, in exchange for performing at his Street Fair.
The change in venue had a positive effect, as attendance grew to over 250 participants, with over two dozen workshops, most held in air-conditioned classrooms, and outstanding concerts on both Friday and Saturday nights.
July 17-19, 2015
Uke U-4 was by all accounts a tremendous success. The weekend sold out by early June, and evening activities totaled around 400 attendees, all of whom had a great time, based on verbal and written comments.
Once again the workshops, performances and open-mic sessions drew rave reviews. Also receiving accolades was the outstanding organization and effectiveness of the Uke U volunteer staff. Other areas that received high marks were the venue at the beautiful Cascades Academy and camping at nearby Tumalo State Park.
July 15-17, 2016
Uke U-5 was held for the second time at Cascades Academy with the nearby Tumalo State Park a popular camping spot for many. Once again it was a successful event with tickets selling out in two weeks. The returning and new attendees along with musicians came together for a weekend of excellent workshops, concerts and open-mic performances.
July 14-16, 2017
Uke U-6 also sold out early and attendees were not disappointed with the great line-up of musicians. Workshops and concerts were exceptional for both new and returning attendees.
June 30 – July 2, 2018
With a six-year history of presenting a fun, educational festival at a reasonable price, Uke U-7 was the best yet.