The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is underway!

As of Friday, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is on! We were there as spectators at the first four events: (1) Made in Hawai’i Artisan Market, (2) Lantern Parade, (3) Multicultural Showcase, and (4) the Holualoa Coffee and Art Stroll. For many (most?) of the events, you only need the $5 festival button to get in. We already had ours and forgot to bring them to the first three events, all in Kailua. At a token cost of $5, you just buy them again.

Don’t dawdle over dinner too long or you’ll miss the Lantern Parade! Daifukuji’s youth taiko group was by far the most exciting group. Nothing like the drums stirring up energy and reverberating through your body. [FYI, they are holding a silent online auction to raise money for the youth to go to Japan next year.] We were watching by the end of the parade route, where each group would pause before they got officially announced.

I don’t exactly understand who gets to walk in the parade. This is the Entry Form. There was one couple that walked in it. Their announcement had almost gotten skipped, because they were just these two people (visiting tourists?) walking in the dark with their two lanterns, as opposed to a larger community group. I didn’t see the Kealakehe High School Polynesian Club this year, in the parade or the subsequent Multicultural Showcase. They are such a large club, and their presence and performances are powerful, commanding, and impressive.

I really enjoyed the Multicultural Showcase. I think it’s attended by more locals than visitors, yet it’s appealing to all. But somehow my cousins who were at the parade didn’t know about it and all missed it. It’s not a lūʻau or show put on just for tourists. I like that there can be hula groups of Merrie Monarch caliber, and they’re dancing in jeans and t-shirts. Or musicians play a song that several dancers love, and they just jump up and dance, and you can see the different choreography.

I was most excited by Kamaha’o Haumea-Thronas, a 14 year old boy. He was singing and playing ukulele on stage with two adult men accompanying him on instruments when we walked in. This is him in a photo that Reiko took. WOW!! What talent! I am an instant fan. His Hawaiian style falsetto was right on. This song, Ali’i No ‘Oe, was one of the songs he sang, and it was even better than the video from a year ago. He had fun, natural stage presence. I found this on YouTube, his performance for the 2023 Kamehameha Schools Song Contest.

The Kona Hongwanji taiko group played bon dance songs, and kūpuna (seniors), youngsters, teens, Miss Kona Coffee competitors, and people of all ethnicities and mixes jumped in and out of the dancing circle depending on the song. She-can-do-it-all, multi-talented Reiko was there, someone to follow/mimic. She can be found at many bon dances around the island during the bon dance season. [In just the few days prior I’ve seen her swimming, playing the Japanese nose flute, dancing hula bringing me to cathartic tears, and she had made Japanese food, flower arrangements, and a variety of leis.] It was fun to see Kamaha’o jump in, like any other kid in the audience might. There was the traditional coal miner’s song (my friend was going through the motions sitting down, remembering it from her childhood) and then modern dances choreographed to, e.g., Bruno Mars (who hails from Hawai’i). This is living culture!

Changing gears, getting ready to wind this post up, I’ll throw in a few images from the farm. Our very first rollinia. We’ll have to look up or ask around about when to harvest it.

And a photo in the spirit of keeping it real. Not all is perfect. This autograph tree has taken over a dead coffee stump. You might think, “That’s a nice tree.” It’s not. We are always battling autograph trees. At least they are much smaller on our property now, since we continually whack away at them. It’s like whack-a-mole — they’re always sprouting and re-sprouting up somewhere.

I’ll leave you with a fun-with-cousins photo from Saturday’s sunset, taken at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau. Do you see what we’re spelling? [It’s NOT ALMA, you smart aleck!]

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