Event Preview – Uke Fest 2016 – Vieux Carre 10/14


This year’s Uke Fest has crossed the Mississippi to land squarely in Saint Paul at the Vieux Carré Jazz club. How fitting as 2016 is the “Year of Music” in our capital city! This is the festival’s fifth year, and the fourth year that finds local ukulele songstress Katy Vernon at its helm. When Katy Vernon took over the duties as event organizer four years ago, she decided to partner with the ARC GTC, and made the festival a benefit for the good works that the organization does. This statement that is directly from the webpage of the ARC GTC says it best;

“Our organization’s mission is to attract and serve clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities by:

  • Promoting the general welfare of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Providing services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities which will enhance their opportunities for growth and independence.
  • Providing support to the families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Reducing the incidence and limiting the consequence of intellectual and developmental disabilities through education and advocacy and through supporting research with the help of families, friends and the community.
  • Facilitating equal access to society for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Such a worthy mission, and one that is personal to Katy Vernon as her own brother Peter is a person with disabilities himself. Not only has Vernon been a tireless advocate for her brother, she has been hard at work to advance the cause of Uke Fest.

“It’s bigger and better than ever and it’s exciting to try a new city and spread the ukulele love! However, I want it to grow even more.

It will never truly be a “fest”, until I can expand it. I’d like to offer a beginner class, guest instructors, a large play along session, merch booths, a key note address and evening concert.

We have the concert part down, which is why I always call it a “Uke Fest Concert”,  but the goal would be to make a day of it. To achieve this I would need some help planning and ideally some sponsorship. It’s good to have goals though, and someday all the pieces will connect.

I hope that people still get the feel of a fest, and realize that this event is meant to be open to all to showcase the instrument and the people that play it as a diverse, talented, and never intimidating group!”

Along with being a benefit for the ARC GTC, Uke Fest is also benefiting the MMC (Minnesota Music Coalition) this year. The MMC is based in Saint Paul, and has made it a point to showcase and boost musical events there. Check out this Micro-Grant Program they have going on:

“A partnership between the Minnesota Music Coalition and the City of Saint Paul through their Cultural STAR Program, the Year of Music Micro-Grants Program is designed to to infuse live music throughout the City in celebration of Saint Paul’s Year of Music campaign. We will distribute small grants to support artist fees for special public events–including block parties, fall festivals, annual meetings and neighborhood gatherings. Grant applications will be accepted throughout 2016 or while funding lasts. Modest support ranging from $250 to $500 will help introduce and encourage the concept of adding live popular music to many of our most grassroots gatherings while also supporting artists working in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Download full eligibility requirements and grant application here. For more information, please email grants@mnmusiccoalition.org or call 1-651-347-1662.”

Vernon is clear that she wants Uke Fest to thrive, and that this year’s Uke Fest feels like quite the “milestone for an event that was only ever planned as a one off!”. One obvious way that the fest has grown is that its performers have increased to eighteen in number. Because of that, the party will go until midnight, culminating in a group singalong! A great time to head to Saint Paul, as the annual Art Crawl is happening as well! Uke Fest will happen on Friday, October 14th from 8:30 PM-midnight at Vieux Carré, 408 St. Peter Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102, an all ages, fee event ($10 suggested cash donation):