By Danielle Kutchel
“Every single person seemed to have a smile on their face.”
That’s how Dan MacEoin, festival director, described the Hills Ukulele Festival which was held over the weekend.
Around 500 people flocked to Emerald Primary School for the event, drawn by the promise of idyllic melodies, food and fun.
Veteran uke players joined forces with fresher fingers to strum away at old favourites as well as new compositions. School students took part in the junior HUF (Hills Ukulele Festival) Awards which ran in the concurrent Student Ukulele Festival.
In both their school groupings and in smaller groups, students performed in an open-mic talent competition. A student who was too nervous to perform in 2018 took home the Junior HUF award for an original piece.
“On every level imaginable, that ticks all the boxes,” said Mr MacEoin.
He said there were lots of other people getting up on stage for the first time.
“They had a great time and were really proud of themselves.”
Mr MacEoin described Saturday night’s concert as “absolutely blow-your-mind amazing from beginning to end”, with a smorgasbord of rock, jazz, blues, instrumental, folk and bluegrass tunes to keep the audience tapping their toes.
With 19 bands performing on Sunday and seven on Saturday, one might expect to hear of tech glitches – but Mr MacEoin said musicians commented that they were blown away by the professionalism of the technology manager, Blaise Cosme.
A mega-raffle drew crowds, with over $2000 in prizes up for grabs including professional ukuleles and a cigar box guitar. Mr MacEoin said the raffle will run until 31st May for those who didn’t manage to grab their tickets over the weekend.
He said the whole community needed to be thanked for coming together.
“The festival could not happen with the support of Emerald Primary School’s school council, a huge number of staff and parents who gave up their time and classrooms to create the space for it.”
He also thanked the Gem Theatre, Emerald Community House and sponsor Hans Music Spot.
“Everyone just enjoyed being with everyone,” Mr MacEoin said, “that’s what ukulele is about.”
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets in the raffle can go to https://www.rafflelink.com.au/huf2019-raffle. All funds raised through the raffle will go towards new equipment for Emerald Primary School’s music department.