An estimated 170 ukulele enthusiasts are packing their stringed instruments and bags to converge on Silver Creek Town Hall next week for the Silver Creek International Ukulele Carnival on Aug. 16-18.
This year marks the ninth annual ukulele carnival, founded in 2011 to bring together ukulele players for fun and education. And Two Harbors Ukulele Group (THUG) member and carnival organizer Dale Moe says it's the biggest festival yet.
"We've got a record number of people already registered and we’re two weeks out," Moe said. "We’ve got a bunch of people signed up for beginner lessons and for our big Saturday concert, we’re going to anticipate over 300 people in attendance, so expect standing room only in that music pavilion."
The free carnival is open to players at all levels. Beginners can develop more skills at the various learning sessions Saturday morning. More seasoned players can jam with players of similar abilities. Players of all levels come together for the concert Saturday.
This year the carnival will start a day early, Thursday, Aug. 15, for locals and musicians who arrive early. THUG will hold a jam session prior to the Two Harbors City Band concert at 6:30 p.m. in Thomas Owens Park and will hand out information about the carnival.
The carnival really kicks off 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, in the Silver Creek Music Pavilion with a strum and sing-along with host Pete McCarty, a Memphis based musician. The Two Harbors High School Athletics Department will host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser following the strum, before the Friday Night Jam and social, which starts at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, several ukulele workshops, song practices and open mics are scheduled before the annual concert at 4:30 p.m. in the Silver Creek Music Pavilion. The concert, open to the public, is a chance for individual group performances as well as a few songs by the entire group of carnival attendees.
"That's part of what sets us apart from any other ukulele festival in the country," Moe said. "We have a lot of people of varying talents coming together to play together and nobody looks down at anybody else because they may or may not be as good as the next person. It’s a really great group and, even better, it's free."
The public is also invited Sunday, Aug. 18, to the Gooseberry Falls gospel church service at 9 a.m. at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Two Harbors.
For a full itinerary and to register, visit twoharborsukukulelegroup.com.