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Still time to get involved with Yooper Uke Week

It’s not too late to get out of the house and have a different kind of fun by participating in the Hiawatha Music Co-op’s fifth annual Yooper Uke Week.

There are outdoor events set for Saturday as part of this special week. Programs are free to all participants and are made possible through the generous support of the Hiawatha Music Co-op, Ben Hassenger Music, Music is the Foundation, the Peter White Public Library Carroll Paul Memorial Fund, Blackrocks Brewery and a grant from Arts Midwest.

How did this all come about?

“I was born and live in Lansing, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the U.P.,” said Ben Hassenger, Michigan’s Ukulele Ambassador, in a press release. “My father’s side of the family is from Ishpeming and I now own the family home on Deer Lake Road.

“I was looking for ways to bring the aloha spirit of the ukulele to the Marquette area and teamed up in 2016 with folks at the Hiawatha Music Co-op to found Yooper Uke Week. Over the years, we’ve worked with various classrooms, libraries, senior centers, and other facilities across Marquette and Alger counties conducting workshops, leading group strums, and performing in concerts. Two-thousand-twenty has presented some special challenges, but I’m happy that we can keep the Yooper Uke Week tradition alive.

“The uke is small but mighty and can overcome whatever is thrown at it.”

Saturday, a series of uke workshops for a variety of ages will be offered in the open-air tent at Blackrocks Brewery.

This includes a Ukulele 1-2-3 (beginning workshop for all ages) from 11 a.m. to noon; Too High? Too Low? Transpose! (a next level workshop for all ages) from 12:30-1:30 p.m.; and a Community Strum (open group community strum — 21 and over only) from 2-3 p.m.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to share Yooper Uke Week with the community again this year although it may look a little different,” said Sue Bertram, of the Hiawatha Music Co-op, in the release. “To ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable, we have taken extra COVID-19 safety precautions, are hosting all in-person events outdoors, and have virtual programming available for those who would like to participate from home.”

Participants attending the in-person activities are asked to only attend if they are feeling well, to wear a mask when not seated at their table, and to respect social distancing guidelines outlined by Blackrocks Brewery, which donated space for the event.

For additional information on Yooper Uke Week activities, visit the Hiawatha website at www.hiawathamusic.org or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HiawathaMusicFestival. Blackrocks Brewery COVID-19 policies are available at: https://www.blackrocksbrewery.com/covid19

We thank the Hiawatha Music Co-op, Hassenger, Blackrocks Brewery and all others involved in keeping this fun Upper Peninsula event going in the time of COVID-19.

An event that brings smiles such as this one does is certainly most welcome any year, but most especially in 2020, which will forever be marked by the pandemic.

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