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patrickmcgill
03-23-2013, 04:16 PM
I'm thinking of going this year. I've never been to a Uke festival before. This one looks like a fun one.

Has anyone been before? What's a uke fest like for a first timer?

Tonya
03-24-2013, 05:34 AM
Ukulele festivals, no matter where they are, are typically a great way to immerse yourself in everything four string for a day, weekend or week. I've been lucky enough to attend more than 25 festivals in the past five years or so; I enjoy writing them up to share what the experience is like to encourage other players to attend a festival, whether close enough to drive or so far away you have to fly. I've been to the Reno event three times and will be there this year, too. Here's a writeup of the 2010 Reno event (last year was a great time, too, but I took the photos and didn't get it written up and posted): http://ukuleletonya.com/blog/2010/04/tahoe-area-uke-fest-march-19-20-2010. I also have accounts/photos of many other festivals elsewhere at my site; my goal is to get every ukulele player to take the time/effort to attend a festival.

At a festival you'll find lots of opportunities for learning, buying, jamming with others and hearing some great performers. Bring a notebook/paper/pen for class notes; a lightweight music stand can be helpful but sometimes it's just easier to prop your workshop class handouts on your lap than haul one around. If there's a workshop you *really* want to attend, arrive early and definitely sit up front (learning materials brought by the workshop instructors sometimes run out and sitting up front gives you a better chance of getting one). Some workshops are all lecture but most are a mixture of the instructor talking/demonstrating and then giving you a chance to try out what you've learned. Most instructors are okay with you audio/video recording the workshop but *always* ask first.

Buy tickets to the concert. Make friends with people you're sitting next to. Be open to opportunities to jam/kani ka pila with others after the concert or during breaks in the day. Connecting with other players is really the joy of attending an ukulele event.

Bring a credit card/cash for the vendor area. Many will even take checks. Wander through the vendor area early and often. If you see an instrument (or other item--music book, accessory, jewelry, whatever) that really thrills you, buy it sooner rather than later. Most vendors only bring limited stock and it'd be a shame to return six hours later, after your last workshop, and find that item you'd drooled over already sold. I know this from experience. Talk with vendors, try out ukuleles of all kinds.

When "testing" an ukulele, be polite: make sure you're not wearing anything that would inadvertently scratch the instrument (belt buckle, buttons, etc.) and your fingers aren't sticky/gummy from anything. But don't be afraid to try instruments that you think are "above" your price range or playing ability. A festival is a great opportunity to get a feel for a wide variety of instruments that most of us don't have nearby to try. My first festival (back in Rhode Island!), I wandered through the vendor area twice with my hands politely behind my back; I was a new player (as in three chords, barely) and I didn't feel I really "deserved" to be able to play those nicer instruments. Finally a vendor smiled at me: "You know, you're allowed to play them," he laughed. So I did--and I ended up with a custom instrument I never would have considered otherwise. Before then, I had no idea that a nice instrument could feel and sound so much nicer to play!

If things are noisy at the vendor area, ask to take the instrument over to a wall/corner and play facing that surface. The sound will come back to you more easily there. Also have someone *else* play the instrument for you as you face them; you may be able to hear the sound better that way.

Get plenty of sleep ahead of time--you'll need it!

Cornfield
03-24-2013, 05:52 AM
My wife and I went to the Reno fest and the Milwaukee fest last year. Each festival has it's own flavor. Both were great. Expect to learn a lot, smile a lot and maybe spend a bit. I bought more ukes at both fests.
The Nugget, where the Reno fest is, is a nice facility. They still allow smoking in the casino and you have to pass through that area to get to the concert venue. Other than the smoking, I found the facility pleasant.

Lori
03-24-2013, 06:22 AM
I agree about the smokey casino and the Nugget. I am used to the smoking restrictions in California, so I was very irritated by having to go though all that smoke to get to the concert, and the restaurants. They have 4 or 5 really nice restaurants in the Nugget, so that was a big plus. The concert room has tiers of dining booths, so make sure your seat is turned toward the stage, or you will have a sore neck. It was snowing outside the year we went, and the main town is several miles away, so we basically stayed in the hotel. We flew in, so no car. But we were glad of that when the weather turned stormy for the trip home.

–Lori

nix
03-24-2013, 01:38 PM
The Reno Uke Fest was my first ukulele festival when I went last year. I had a wonderful time and learned so much that my head was spinning. I really appreciated flying in and staying at the Nugget because it was ukulele all day every day and I didn't have to worry about driving anywhere or finding parking or missing something. If you are fairly new to the uke, make sure to take one of Stu's strumming workshops. He helped me more with my strumming than anything else I've been too.

As an aside, we are having an Ukulele Underground meet up on Saturday at 8:00am in room 1. I know it's really early but that was the only time Rich and Doug could find that wouldn't conflict with a workshop or a concert. I hope to meet some of you there!

Nix

Tonya
03-24-2013, 08:15 PM
[Dumb questions follow--please forgive thread offshoot] May *any* UU people show for the meetup on Saturday morning? Can I take pix for my website? What happens at a meetup???

patrickmcgill
03-25-2013, 02:51 PM
Just booked my tickets to Reno!

nix
03-25-2013, 03:57 PM
[Dumb questions follow--please forgive thread offshoot] May *any* UU people show for the meetup on Saturday morning? Can I take pix for my website? What happens at a meetup???

Hi Tonya. Not dumb questions at all. Absolutely any and all UU people would be welcome for the meetup on Saturday. The more the merrier! I've never organized anything like this before and don't know what will happen. We might just sit around and gab about ukes or the concert the night before. We might pull out our instruments and jam. The purpose is just to put faces to some of the names we interact with and develop friendships with here on the boards. I'm not sure about pictures. There are tons of candids floating around from previous festivals so my guess is that most people would be OK with it.

Hope to meet you (and your MooreBettah :drool:) in real life!

Nix

jimdville
03-25-2013, 06:58 PM
Hi Tonya, Let's get together and take a tune or two around for a spin this year! Jim

SailingUke
03-26-2013, 05:00 AM
Tonya & Jim,
Me too !

ralphk
03-26-2013, 05:21 AM
Regarding the earlier comment to sit in front. Sit in front on the left side. That way you can see his left hand fingering. Sitting on the right may result in his/her hand position hiding the fingering.