So Dad and I just got back from the Reno Ukulele Festival where we displayed our ukuleles for the first time. I wish I could explain how special it is for me to be able to share this endeavor with my father. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous about displaying our ukuleles, but all in all, it went swimmingly. We met lots of happy ukulele players who tried out our instruments, saw some great shows and got to hang with a bunch of the ukulele family.

The winner of the ukulele we put in the festival raffle was…

Douglas gets ready to name the winner of the Iriguchi ukulele "Piet"

…Lolita West! We couldn’t be happier that Lolita was our winner! She stopped by the booth just before the raffle and was poring over our ukuleles and hoping to one day own one. Little did she know, that that was the day! Lolita was ecstatic to win “Piet” and we were super happy for her.

Winner of the Iriguchi ukulele "Piet" is Lolita West!

We got to see Kris Fuchigami and his mom Keiko. They were the headline act at the finale show on Saturday. We’ve been communicating with them since we saw them last year in Reno so it was great to see them in person and spend some time with them. They came by the booth a couple of times to meet Dad, but Dad was having too much fun in the casino…um, I mean workshops, each time! Dad finally got to meet Kris and Keiko after their show on Saturday. Kris is terrific on his CDs but to really appreciate what he can do on his ukulele, you have to see him in person.

Charming Sarah Maisel came by our booth and played one of our ukuleles. Ay caramba… what a treat! Sarah plays jazz ukulele and sings. She taught several workshops and was part of the finale show on Saturday night. I picked up her two latest CDs, “Have Uke Will Travel” and “In the Moment” and I highly recommend both of them. Be sure to check out I Go Out Walkin’ on the former and East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) on the latter. Those are my two favorite tracks right now.

Sarah Maisel - Jazz ukulele and vocals

Sarah Maisel playing an Iriguchi ukulele! Awesome!

We got to visit with Zac and Melody from Oceana Ukuleles. We met them last year at Reno and they are down to earth, good people. Zac is an exceptional craftsman and makes beautiful ukuleles. The thing I notice when I pick up his ukes is that they have terrific balance, they feel very comfortable in your hands. Am I endorsing a competitors ukulele here? Ah crap, I guess I am. Well you can always get one from both of us, but start with me!

Mike DaSilva from DaSilva Ukulele Company came by the booth too. If you know ukuleles, you know who Mike DaSilva is. Mike made the grand prize ukulele in the festival raffle. He chatted with me for a while about building ukuleles and invited me to come see his shop. How cool is that? The ukulele family rocks.

My booth was right next to Music Guy Mic from Haleiwa, Hawaii. It was a little intimidating being next to his expansive ukulele display but Mike made me feel right at home. He even interviewed me for his YouTube channel! It was great to be next to his booth because he brought a lot of traffic to our side of the marketplace!

Mike is a good guy and an icon in the ukulele family.

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth and took the time to try out our ukuleles. I hope all of you will keep in touch through the website and that we can one day make a lifetime ukulele for you. The guys from the Utah uke fest, the ladies from Davis, CA, everyone…you made it a great festival for us.

Stu & Danielle Herreid, Gary Stein, Chris Armstrong, Sue & Ed, Sue & Joe (my friendly boothmates) Gary Rogers (Nalu), Duane “Pudgy” Wong (Music Works), Dana Thorin (Music Caravan), Perry Bullinger (Covered Bridge Ukuleles), Steve van Pelt, Kazue Kurebyashi (Kazue Art Photo), Michael Powers, Jim D’Ville, Lil’Rev (thanks for sending a buyer my way Lil’ Rev!) and all the Pierces…it was great seeing everyone!

And a very special thanks to Bud for helping me out in the booth! You were a big big help. I truly appreciate it.

Looking forward to next year already!

Featured image at top of post by Kazue Kurebayashi.