On December 1, 2021 Honolulu ended capacity limits and social-distancing requirements for large events. Unfortunately, events such as the annual "Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival" and Roy Sakuma's "Ukulele Festival Hawaii" among others did not return to in-person status in 2022 or 2023. The music industry and community experienced a void with the absence of these and other events since 2019 compounded with many 'ukulele events moving to an online format. Also, in 2022, Roy Sakuma announced that "Ukulele Festival Hawaii" would be ending its 52 year legacy event and noted his desire for there to be "many ʻukulele festivals year round". Together Kala Foundation, committed to cultural education, and Amy Hammond of Special Events Hawaiʻi, a leading large-scale event planner and former student of Roy Sakuma, recognized the community need and value of holding a free to the public in-person event. Together they envisioned a new inclusive festival, unlike any other before, welcoming all manufacturers, schools, entertainers from well-known to emerging and keiki to kupuna all infused with education, history and Hawaiian culture. The Hawaiʻi ʻUkulele Festival, a celebration of all things ʻukulele was born. Strengthened by the support of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Oʻahu Visitors Bureau with support provided by Hawai‘i Tourism through the Community Enrichment Program this first time event came to life on July 23, 2023 at Kapiʻolani Park Bandstand.
Article featured in the July 16, 2023 Entertainment section of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by John Berger.
During an April 18 interview on KITV in 2022 Roy said “he was finished with the festival as he
had achieved his dreams and hoped that there can be year round festivals."
KITV Announcement video llnk:
2018 Hawai'i Book and Music Festival
From left to right: HBMF Executive Director Roger Jellinek and HBMF Event Planner
Amy Hammond. In 2023 the Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival proudly participated with a booth supporting the event and welcoming back in person events.