Musicians make pilgrimage to Aura Jamboree

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette From left, Paul Strom, 62, from Escanaba, John Mosqueda, 75 from Mount Clemens, Michigan, Dan Shrader from Crivitz, Wisconsin, and Terry Knutson from Marinette, Wisconsin, perform an impromptu music jam outside the Aura Community Hall.

AURA — Despite cloudy weather, the mood remained undamped as the 42nd Annual Aura Jamboree began Friday at the Aura Community Hall.

Musical acts crossed the stage every 15 minutes, while outside the hall, musicians were improvising with each other’s songs.

Musicians come from all over Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as a few from Minnesota and other places to attend the annual Baraga County event.

“My best friend and her daughter sing,” said Nicole Stein, 46, of L’Anse.

That daughter, Kinsey LaFernier of Aura, has been singing at the jamboree for more than a decade.

“I think it was since I was 4,” she said.

She performed backed by a band made up of friends and family.

Outside of the hall under trees and pavilions, musicians gathered to share songs with each other and listeners.

Some, like Dennis Forberg, 66, of Rapid River, aren’t scheduled to take the stage, but he comes out to play his guitar, enjoy the company of other musicians and support the jamboree.

“I hope it goes on forever,” said Forberg, who was attending for the seventh time.

All of the musicians, concession staff, cleanup crew and other workers are volunteers. All ticket proceeds go to the Aura Community Hall Association for maintenance costs.

“This hall wouldn’t exist anymore if it wasn’t for the jamboree,” said Mike Roberts, president of the hall association. Excluding the musicians, there were about 100 volunteers who helped run the event, according to a volunteer coordinator, Roger Wiik.

“It’s just nice to keep the place going,” said Bob Heikkinen, 65, of Pequaming.

Heikkinen said his family donated the land the community hall was built on in 1933.

The jamboree continued on Saturday with dances in the hall both nights at 8 p.m.