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Celebrating heritage in Waimea

Thousands of people flowed through Waimea town during the 46th Waimea Town Celebration that wrapped up with the ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday at the park in the shadow of the Waimea sugar mill relic.

With the assistance and sponsorship of its driving supporters, including Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, County of Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau and an army of community sponsors, the Waimea Town Celebration kicked off a week ago with a series of paid and no-admission events that celebrated Waimea’s cultural heritage.

Celebrating heritage worked the organizers’ creativity to the max, as Kaua‘i Cocktails &Cuisine, the WTC opening event, adapted Mardi Gras into the Westside culture by offering food, costume contests and cocktails that are popular in New Orleans.

The tribute to King Kaumuali‘i and the lifestyle was celebrated with the Kaumuali‘i Lu‘au that featured Kumu Hula Troy Lazaro, himself a product of Waimea, and Halau Ka Pa Hula o Hinano performances that honored Kaua‘i’s favorite King Kaumuali‘i.

Ka Lei Papale, or Hat Lei contest, moved the audience from the days of ali‘i through the plantation era, the paniolo lifestyle, and into today where Jimmy Okada was presented the Mahalo Award for his work as the ambassador of Waimea. He received special recognition from the band Cherry Cherry, which returned to Kaua‘i following the COVID-19 shutdown with its Neil Diamond cover music.

More contemporary favorite competitions included the Kaua‘i Paniolo Showdown 2023 at the Friendship Do’s Ranch, Waimea Arena, Na Heihei a Ola 2K, 5K and 10K Fun Run that started at Waimea Plantation Cottages, and the Na‘i‘ole Long Distance Canoe Race that serves as the opening race for the Kaua‘i Outrigger Canoe Racing Association calendar.

The ho‘olaule‘a that started Friday night and continued Saturday served to anchor the weeklong celebration with a long slate of live entertainment, craft booths and food booths, and serves as an anchor for several other events, including a volleyball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball tourney, softball tournament, and other fun contests, including the Super Duper II ice cream eating contest and the Scotty’s Music ‘Ukulele Contest, where winners earned new ‘ukulele.

Organizers are looking forward to the holiday season, as posters marking upcoming events like the Flip the Switch on Dec. 3, and the historic Waimea Light Parade on Dec. 17 already occupy space in the lobby of the Historic Waimea Theater.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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