HONOLULU — 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 Ukulele Festival Hawaii 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 a.m. Sunday and last until 5 p.m. It will include a ukulele orchestra of hundreds of students of the instruments, mostly schoolchildren.

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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.