By Robert Buan
HONOLULU (KITV) — Hundreds gathered on Sunday afternoon in Waikiki for the Hawaii Ukulele Festival. Held at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand, the event featured several performers of the signature 4-stringed instrument.
The day-long affair included a billing of several well-known players including Kamakakehau Fernandez, Kalei Gamiao, Corey Fujimoto, Kris Fuchigami, Kuʻuipo Kumukahi, Kimo Hussey, Zanuck Lindsey, Brittni Paiva, Bryan Tolentino, NUE, and Mika Kane.
For many of the musicians, the chance to play songs to an ukulele-adoring crowd is about sharing their personalities as much as showcasing songs.
“It’s just really fun,” said Julie Nishimoto, half of the duo Jessica & Julie. “We hope to perform more at these kind of events or any other places because it’s really fun and we’re really grateful.”
“I totally agree,” added duo partner Jessica Blazi. “The words definitely are meaningful and we choose those with purpose, like, (their cover of the Jack Johnson hit) Better Together.”
Among the various booths and displays were the mobile ukulele museum provided by the Hawaii State Archives, a Hawaii Artisans and Crafters Village, a multi-ethnic food court and a variety of ukulele merchants. Cultural exhibits focused on topics such as the significance the ukulele in Hawaii, a Hawaiian cultural activities zone, and an Ōlelo Hawaii Hawaiian Language introduction from the Kala Foundation.
The first time for this event, Hawaii Ukulele Festival was created in part as a tribute to living ukulele legend Roy Sakuma. Last held in 2019, Sakuma hosted an annual festival that went on for an impressive stretch of 52 straight years.
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