FARMINGTON — Hundreds of people on Saturday filled the San Juan College Learning Commons Plaza to enjoy tunes by both local and touring bands.

By 2:30 p.m. Saturday, more than 200 people were at San Juan College's Summer Music Festival, surpassing the total number of attendees at last year's event. About 150 people attended the festival in 2013.

Marcia Sterling-Penn, the college's student activities director, said she estimated 500 people would attend the one-day festival.

She attributed the larger number to a bigger marketing campaign. While the college started marketing in March last year for the inaugural event, it began promoting this year's event in September. This helped the college bring in much larger bands, including Grammy Award winner La Santa Cecilia.

Keith Cochrane plays the trumpet on Saturday with his group, San Juan College Super Rock Combo, during the Summer Music Festival at San Juan College in
Keith Cochrane plays the trumpet on Saturday with his group, San Juan College Super Rock Combo, during the Summer Music Festival at San Juan College in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

"We already have big names when it comes to music," said Christopher Keating, one of the event coordinators, adding that he expects the festival to continue growing each year.

Keating said he pushed to get Latin-rock group La Santa Cecilia, and Sterling-Penn really wanted Americana and blues artist Jackie Greene. In the end, both La Santa Cecilia and Jackie Greene agreed to perform.

Sterling-Penn was most excited for Jackie Greene's performance.

"I've listened to his music for years," she said. "It makes me happy. If I'm having a bad day, I just put on some Jackie Greene and I feel better."

The festival also featured local bands, such as The Delbert Anderson Trio, a jazz band with Native American influences.

The band consists of Delbert Anderson, Nick Lucero and Mike McCluhan, who met while covering for other musicians in local bands.

"We thought why don't we make our own thing instead of being on call for these other guys?" Lucero said.

The trio was among hundreds of bands that applied to perform at the festival. The college's student body voted the group as the best local band and offered them the chance to perform.

Anderson said festivals are important because they support the musical arts.

"As the years progress, it's sort of becoming a dying art form," Anderson said.

He said schools are often one of the first places to lose music, and jazz is especially becoming a dying art form, even though it is an American tradition.

To try to keep jazz alive, the trio last year toured local schools and educated students on the genre.

In addition to live music, a fenced off section at the festival provided activities for children, including water guns and hula hoops.

"I love seeing the families out and having a good time," Sterling-Penn said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.