The Big Island: For Festival Fanatics

Celebrations are a big deal on the Big Island, where annual festivals showcase an appealing mix of music, food, arts, crafts and nature. Clients visiting the island can time their vacations with the following upcoming events.

By: Marty Wentzel

Celebrations are a big deal on the Big Island, where annual festivals showcase an appealing mix of music, food, arts, crafts and nature. Clients visiting the island can time their vacations with the following upcoming events.

" Aloha Festivals, Aug. 24 to Sept. 29. Part of a yearly statewide celebration, this cultural party presents visitors with an opportunity to mingle with the community and learn more about what makes the Big Island unique. Highlights include a contest of falsetto singing and storytelling, two hula festivals, the Ms. Aloha Nui contest (a beauty pageant for large women), parades and hoolaulea (street parties), a film festival, children’s day at Lyman House Museum in Hilo and a community fair. Most Aloha Festivals events are free when participants wear a $5 festival ribbon, available at outlets on all islands. Call 800-852-7690.

" Sam Choy Poke Festival, Sept. 13-15. Hawaii’s favorite snack and side dish, poke is made of marinated fresh seafood cut into bite-size pieces, served raw, seared or cooked. New varieties are created every year for the festival, headed by Hawaii’s most visible chef, Sam Choy. The weekend includes a benefit auction and dinner Friday evening and a golf tournament and live entertainment Saturday. On Sunday, amateur and professional chefs present their poke innovations for more than $15,000 in prizes. Call 808-880-3023.

" Hamakua Music Festival, Oct. 12 to Nov. 1. Each year, renowned jazz, classical and Hawaiian artists head to Honokaa on the windward side of the Big Island, performing live in the Honokaa People’s Theatre and offering master classes to promising island high school students. This year’s performers include jazz pianist David Benoit on Oct. 12 and classical pianist Awadagin Pratt on Nov. 1. Since its inception in 1994, the festival has raised more than $50,000 for music education, and it provides funds to local schools for activities such as band trips. Call 808-775-3378 for information on additional artists appearing this year.

" Big Island Festival, Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. The newest annual event on the calendar celebrates the diversity of the island. During the five-day festival, clients can savor a wide variety of distinctive Big Island experiences including health and spa treatments, golf, sports, farm tours, a designer trunk show and Hawaiian cultural events. Each evening, a different resort along the Kohala Coast hosts a food and wine gala showcasing the talents of the men and women who were named Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in America for 2002, along with Hawaii’s top gourmets. Call 866-424-FEST.

" Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Nov. 1-10. Hawaii’s oldest food festival, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival features 30 events focusing on different aspects of the Big Island’s 170-year coffee tradition. Clients may attend coffee tastings, a lantern parade, an art exhibit, a scholarship pageant, a coffee bean picking contest, a golf tournament, a healthy-baby contest, live concerts, coffee farm tours, arts and crafts workshops, a lei contest and a bowling tournament. Admission is free, but guests are asked to purchase a $2 festival button, available at all of the events. Call 808-326-7820.

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