``There is no other instrument that gives what it does. The ukulele is very participatory, and so simple. It's a lot of fun.''
Ballard and his stage performer/writer wife Adrienne Ballard and their flute-playing daughter Amelie were one of 16 acts to perform during Sunday's concert day of the four-day Lauder Ukulele Festival.
He said the ukulele's worldwide explosion was in part due to the ease with which it could be learnt and its ``non-threatening'' nature.
``When you bring out the guitar everyone instantly goes `oh, what is he going to play', and they are straight away wondering what you will do and making judgements about that. When you bring out the ukulele there are no expectations. The only expectation is to have fun.''
About 250 ukulele players took part in the Lauder festival, which ran from Friday to yesterday and featured workshops, a big sing, early bird jam on Friday and ``recovery jam'' yesterday.
Organisers Barry Bemrose and Bruce Macdonald said they were thrilled with the success of the third annual festival, which was growing in size and success every year.