The Show Must Go On

Big Island residents band together to keep aloha alive

By: By Hulili London


Hawaii Island Festival- 30 Days of Aloha
808-885-3110 or 808-885-9259 
Schedule of Events (consult the Web site for updates):
Aug. 30, 10-11 a.m., Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko, Volcano Art Center, free

Aug. 30, noon, Royal Court Investiture, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, South Kona, free

Sept. 5, Ms. Aloha Nui Contest, Waikoloa Beach Resort

Sept. 6, noon-6 p.m., Great Waikoloa Hoolaulea, Queens’ Marketplace, Waikoloa Beach Resort, free

Sept. 6, Clyde "Kindy" Sproat Falsetto and Storytelling Contest, Waikoloa Beach Resort

Sept. 7, Poke Contest, Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort

Sept. 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Paniolo Parade and Hoolaulea, Waimea, free

Sept. 27, Hilo’s KWXX Hoolaulea, 4:30-10 p.m., Downtown Hilo, free

Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-4p.m., Queen Liliuokalani Festival, Liliuokalani Gardens, Hilo, free


Click here to read Hawaii editor Marty Wentzel’s Fave Five Hawaiian Food Festivals

In September, Hawaii’s less-crowded beaches and discounted off-season rates at hotels and activities may help take the edge off increasingly tough issues with air travel. It’s not entirely a modern scenario. Back in 1946, the Jaycees Oldtimers of Hawaii sought a way to boost September business and created a special event called Aloha Week to do just that.

Young hula girls perform at the Kings’ Shops Hoolaulea. // (c) Bill Adams, MomentsNow.com_
Young hula girls perform at the Kings’ Shops Hoolaulea.

Over the years, Aloha Week grew from seven days to two months and hundreds of craft fairs, concerts, hula shows and parades on all the islands. This year, however, the statewide Aloha Festivals (AF) organization was forced to discontinue financial support due to economic concerns. In response, legions of Big Island residents have banded together to present a new twist on their island’s longstanding tradition. Dubbed the Hawaii Island Festival – 30 Days of Aloha, the 2008 version perpetuates some of the Big Island’s favorite AF events.

In February, when news of the funding cuts reached Moani Akana — whose history with AF dates back to 1991 — she teamed up with Linda Pokipala, another longtime AF volunteer organizer, to co-chair a new festival and rally the community. The Rotary Club of North Hawaii jumped in to take over the Waimea Paniolo Parade. Support came from the Richard Smart Trust Hoohui o Waimea, County of Hawaii, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB), Big Island Resource Conservation and Development Council, Canada France Hawaii Telescope and numerous community volunteers. Waikoloa Beach Resort pitched in to sponsor an entire weekend full of events.

"The bottom line is perpetuating our culture and community," says Akana. "We need to support each other’s events, otherwise they’re going to go away and it would be my fault because I didn’t do anything about it."

This year’s opening investiture ceremonies take place at the island’s historic place of refuge Puuhonua o Honaunau — instead of the usual site at Halemaumau crater — because of the ongoing eruption at Kilauea Volcano. Afterward, following traditional protocols, the Royal Court will preside over all events as they always have, costumed in the red and yellow robes of ancient alii (royalty) or in Victorian gowns and crowns of the Monarchy Period.

Island-wide festivities include several hoolaulea (outdoor Hawaiian fairs with food and entertainment), the popular Clyde "Kindy" Sproat Falsetto and Storytelling Contest, the Poke (marinated raw fish) Contest and Ms. Aloha Nui Pageant, plus hula at the Volcano Art Center, a Hawaiian cowboy parade in Waimea and island music on three concert stages in Hilo attended by 15,000 people.

According to BIVB director George Applegate, grassroots events like the Hawaii Island Festival soften the line between the visitor and resident experience, creating more meaningful insider opportunities, especially for returning guests.