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Posted: Thursday, July 17th, 2014 12:40 PM HST

Ukulele festival celebrates 44th year in Honolulu

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) The first and largest ukulele festival in the world is celebrating its 44th year.

Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro will be one of the featured artists at this weekend's festival in Waikiki's Kapiolani Park.

Ukulele teacher Roy Sakuma has been organizing the free event each year since 1971 to show the ukulele can be played as a solo instrument and not just as background music.

Organizers say the music will begin at the park's bandstand at about 11 am. Sunday and last until 5 p.m.

An effort to the name the ukulele as Hawaii's official instrument was unsuccessful during the 2014 legislative session. Bills that would've declared the ukulele Hawaii's official instrument died amid debate that other instruments such as the steel guitar and ipu gourd would be more appropriate.

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