Island Address Book 11-29-2006

Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the State Tourism Committee, On Holiday Craft Fairs

By: Dawna L. Robertson

Donna Mercado Kim has her hands full in Hawaii’s political scene. Being vice president of the State Senate and chair of the Senate’s Tourism Committee, doesn’t leave her with a lot of free time. Fortunately, she’s extremely crafty in how she spends it as in being an expert in arts and crafts.

This hands-on wahine (female) hopped into her hobbies in a practical way. Growing up as one of five children in a working-class Honolulu family, money was tight, so when she found clothing she liked, she would make a pattern and sew it.

“I sewed my own clothes when I was in college at Washington State,” senator Kim recalled. “I’d find something I liked and I’d make it.”

Even earlier, senator Kim remembers spending days at the beach watching her father carve tikis.

“Tourists bought the tikis from him,” she explained. “I think that’s how I first became truly interested in woodcrafting.”

More recently, the senator’s interests have led her to designing jewelry.

“My son Micah plays golf. So when I waited for him, I watched the other golf mothers make floating necklaces and decided it was something I wanted to learn,” she said. “I also buy pieces and customize them to something I would enjoy even more.”

Hawaiian Handmade

The senator is a huge fan of holiday craft fairs, especially those requiring that items be locally crafted rather than purchased from wholesalers and sold by fair vendors. Her favorite is at Moanalua High School in Honolulu’s Salt Lake area, which happens to be in the district she represents.

Typically held in early December, the fair also features sweet edibles baked in the school cafeteria.

“What’s good about this fair is that they require you to sell things you’ve made yourself,” the senator explained. “You can’t buy something made elsewhere and sell it there. It has to be an item that is truly original, handmade and unique.”

She is also keen on the Mission Houses Museums fairs for their Hawaii items, as well as an annual woodcraft show at Aloha Tower.

“The craftsmanship is wonderful at this Aloha Tower event,” she said.

As for genuine Hawaiian-made items, the senator has attended the annual “Made In Aloha Festival” held each August at Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

“One of my favorite things I’ve found there are gourds which I give as gifts,” she said.

While purchasing is always an option, senator Kim thrives in replicating those things she appreciates the most. And if you’re either receiving or able to purchase one of her “exclusive” offerings, you’re definitely in for a crafty treat.


Dec. 9: Moanalua High School Winter Craft Fair, 2825 Ala Ilima Street, Honolulu, 808-837-845
Dec. 16-17: Pacific Handcrafters Guild Winter Festival, Thomas Square,

Big Island
Dec. 2: Crafty Hands & Gifts Too!, Thelma Parker Gym, Kamuela, 808-883-8358
Dec. 15-16: Christmas Arts, Crafts & Food Fair, Sangha Hall, Hilo, 808-933-1172

Dec. 3: It’s a Maui Christmas Fair, Wailuku War Memorial Gym, 808-250-0737
Dec. 10: No Kai Oi Gift Fair, Wailuku War Memorial Gym, 808-250-0737
For more information, visit