Golden anniversary of Roy Sakuma’s ukulele festival to carry on virtually

Golden anniversary of Roy Sakuma's ukulele festival to carry on virtually

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ukulule teacher Roy Sakuma hosted his first Ukulele Festival in 1971. There have been 49 of them.

The annual gatherings of ukulele enthusiasts draw thousands of spectators.

"All around the world, they've come to Hawaii to be a part of our festival. We're so thankful," Sakuma said.

With help from his wife, Kathy, and family, friends and associates, Sakuma stages the festival at Kapiolani Park. But this year, the pandemic got in the way.

"It was just too difficult. We didn't want to put people at risk," he said.

On the brink of canceling the event, Sakuma came up with an idea to save the 50th anniversary from slipping away in silence.

"We approached Hawaii News Now," he said. "Thankfully, they were excited about joining us on this project."

The project is a one-hour television special that will air on July 19 at 6 p.m. on KHNL. It will also be live-streamed. The show will chronicle the Ukulele Festival’s lively history through photographs, video and stories.

“We even still have the poster of the first annual Ukulele Festival,” Sakuma said.

The program will showcase moments from past festivals, and include appearances from Jake Shimabukuro and other special guests.

"Now that it's on TV and it's live-streamed throughout the world, our audience hopefully will be ten, twenty, thirty times bigger," he said.

Sakuma also wants people to submit videos of themselves playing the song he wrote called "I Am What I Am." Clips will be included in the television show.

“You can go to All the information is right there for you. You can learn how to participate,” he said.

Thanks to Sakuma’s creative thinking, the golden anniversary of the Ukulele Festival will have its shining moment.

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