For the past five years, ukulele lovers from across the country have gathered in Old Town Lansing for a festival called Mighty Uke Day.
It began in 2009 when a documentary about the ukulele entitled Mighty Uke: The Amazing Comeback of a Musical Underdog was created by Tony Coleman, Margaret Meagher and Ron Mann. They were looking for places to have showings when Ben Hassenger, the founder and organizer of Mighty Uke Day reached out to them.
“We showed the movie in one of the art galleries here in Old Town, and then we had a strum and we had an open mic where some people got up and did some songs, really low key, no budget no nothing,” said Hassenger.
The next year, the event grew larger. What started out as Mighty Uke Day has morphed into Mighty Uke Weekend. This year, Mighty Uke Day will be larger than any of the previous years. There will be more activities, more concerts, and more people than ever before.
“[T]he way I do Mighty Uke Day is a la carte,” said Hassenger. “Everything is separate, so the workshops are separate, the concerts are separate, so you can really pay nothing, or if you went to all the workshops and all the concerts you could spend a bunch of money, but we probably will get 400 to 500 people over the course of that long weekend.”
There are so many activities planned that there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. Some of those activities are an open mic, a group strum, various workshops, a featured performer stage, children’s activities, a raffle, a silent auction, headliner concerts, and much more.
The Friday and Saturday night concerts will be held in Dart Auditorium on the Lansing Community College campus. Some of the performers who are scheduled to appear include: Kalei Gamiao, Bryan Tolentino, Hoaloah Polynesian Dance Group, Victor & Penny, Megan Dooley, Ryan Rodriguez and The Ukulele Kings.
The festival will be held May 13-15 at various locations in Old Town Lansing, including Elderly Instruments, Sir Pizza Grand Cafe, Red Cedar Friends Meeting House, Old Town General Store, Preuss Pets, Absolute Gallery and MICA Gallery.
Jessica Gibbons is a junior double majoring in humanities pre-law and professional writing. Her dream is to become a lawyer specializing in family law. She enjoys reading, playing with her cat and watching entirely too much Netflix.