Note: This is long; it’s written for those folks who wonder what it’s really like to attend an ukulele festival and like to know the details. If you just want the photos, go here.
Sunny weather, warm aloha and hot ukulele playing were on this weekend’s agenda as I traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area for the Northern California Ukulele Festival. Held in Hayward, this festival is the 15th annual for this group, making it the longest-running mainland ukulele event. While the day-long festival is on Sunday, there were some great pre-festival activities slated the day before the event so I headed out from Paradise early on Saturday morning. While I love my merlot special edition Miata (and the UKALADY license plates would have been especially appropriate for the weekend’s activities), it feels like an awfully tiny car to be slipping in and out of lanes on high-speed Bay Area freeways—so I toodled down in the ever-trusty 1986 Mazda 626; not a lot of style to the car but it got a whopping 41 miles per gallon—and at almost $4 gallon, that was more than appreciated. It’s about 3-1/2 hours to Berkeley, so I loaded up on a wealth of Hawaiian and ukulele CDs, aimed the steering wheel south and ventured out of the Sierra foothills and toward the Big City.