Stairway to Fun

Ethnic cuisine, an international jazz festival and an inventive fair offer an astonishing array of fun

By: Marty Wentzel

HONOLULUFrom celebrations of food and jazz to a good old-fashioned farm fair, Oahu’s summer calendar offers clients a chance to rub elbows with the local community. The following three longstanding events have particular appeal to out-of-towners. Taste of Honolulu, June 20-22. The annual Easter Seals fundraiser exposes visitors to the wide variety of ethnic cuisine available in Hawaii. “While food, wine and music is the public focus, visitors might like to know that the money they spend at the festival directly supports programs for children with disabilities,” said Easter Seals spokeswoman Billie Gabriel.” Taste of Honolulu has raised $1.4 million in the past 12 years. Of the 46,000 people who attended last year’s Taste of Honolulu, 10 percent came from out of town, said Gabriel. Along with food samples from island restaurants, clients can enjoy wine tastings, live entertainment, art displays, a celebrity cook-off and children’s activities. Taste of Honolulu takes place on the Civic Center grounds in downtown Honolulu. Admission is $3 per adult and free for children under 12. Once through the gates, clients buy scrip for tastes from the food booths. 808-536-1015 or www. Hawaii International Jazz Festival, July 18-19 and July 25-26. The ten-year-old jazz fest draws music buffs to its daytime classes and evening concerts by major artists. “We started the festival to meet the needs of a population with growing interests in jazz,” said HIFF director Abe Weinstein. “We also knew there was a niche market of jazz lovers who would come to Hawaii for an event like this.” The first year 10,000 people attended. Last year drew 36,000, 20 percent of whom were visitors. “The festival combines the beauty of Hawaii with a world-class cultural event,” said Weinstein. “We appeal to people who love music and listen to jazz regularly.” So far, this year’s lineup includes vocalist Tierney Sutton, guitarist Larry Coryell, trumpeter Tiger Okoshi and pianist Makoto Ozone. In Honolulu, evening concerts take place at Blaisdell Concert Hall, with tickets from $20-$40 per person. Wailea Marriott Resort on Maui hosts the following weekend of shows and jam sessions ($30-$45). 808-941-9974 or www. Hawaii State Farm Fair, July 18-20, July 25-27 and July 31-Aug. 3. With a 31-year track record, this local favorite keeps fine-tuning its offerings. New this year is The Flume, a water slalom ride that twists, turns and splashes through a series of ponds. “Each year we try to do something different,” said Hawaii Farm Fair co-chair James Nakatani. “At the same time, our goal is to deepen the public’s appreciation of our independent farmers and Hawaii’s agricultural history.” A new take on the fair’s petting zoo is the addition this year of exotic animals. “You might see a kangaroo, antelope, deer, llama or yak,” said Nakatani. “It won’t be the normal mix of local farm animals.” The 2003 fair also showcases a giant pumpkin contest. Spanning three weekends at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium, the Hawaii State Farm Fair presents rides, games, displays, demonstrations, livestock exhibits and sales of food, plants and produce. Admission is $3 per adult, $1.50 per child ages 5-11 and free under 5. 808-848-2074 or www.