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Please bring back Taste of Hawai‘i

The Taste of Hawai‘i should have been celebrating its 34th anniversary Sunday.

However, when I texted ‘The Taste’ if the event would be held this year, they texted back, “Many restaurants are struggling with staffing. As such, sadly, we will not have a Taste of Hawai‘i this year. Please plan to attend 2023!”

The Taste did not take place in 2018 after severe floods ravaged the Garden Island’s North Shore and many other parts of the state while a good majority of Kaua‘i Rotarians were busy volunteering to help distressed flood victims.

The 2020 and 2021 Taste of Hawai‘i were also canceled due to the pandemic, which means in the last five years the taste has been canceled four times.

The Taste of Hawai‘i is Kaua‘i’s signature event, held at Smith’s Tropical Paradise, where many visitors schedule their vacations around, which is always the first Sunday in June, and in the past has featured over 50 chefs strutting their signature dishes, plus approximately 15 beer, wine and soft-drink-beverage vendors allowing you to eat and drink to your heart’s content.

There are also give or take 10 musical bands from rock ’n’ roll to big band, allowing you to dance and burn off a few calories and then take a breather over at the silent auction.

I always look forward to Taste of Hawai‘i, as do many locals along with the visitors. The $100 price tag for the ticket currently seems cheap with how expensive everything has skyrocketed. I imagine when the Taste eventually resumes that the $100 price tag will be a real deal if the price tag isn’t increased.

Inflation is so bad that companies are afraid to raise prices. Therefore, a new word was recently coined, “shrinkflation” (sic), the bag of chips, can of coffee, or even that plate lunch is the same price, it’s just a smaller, shrunken amount.

The Taste may want to consider the shrinkflation concept, since most everyone loves the Taste, not only for the food, music and drink, but for the fellowship and aloha.

Why not keep the Taste functioning with fewer vendors and fewer musicians, but at least reopen the event, even if it’s not as big as it used to be? Shrinkflation may not be so bad in the case of the Taste if that’s what it takes to keep it alive.

Since the Taste is not happening this year, why not celebrate the Taste by paying it forward with some deep soul-searching with a donation to your favorite charity and/or supporting a local restaurant on the first Sunday in June by taking a friend, family member or even a homeless person to lunch.

Let’s call this, “The Taste of Hawai‘i goes dakine” or, simply, “The Taste of Hawai‘i paying it forward!”

The Taste is a community event sponsored by the Kapa‘a Rotarians. All profits go towards scholarships for local youth and fund international projects such as providing safe drinking water and sanitation in schools for people in poverty-stricken areas around the world.

There is not a better event in the state of Hawai‘i. In the past, many politicians and VIPs frequented the Taste, along with news personalities, singers, actors, rock stars, and even yours truly.

We miss you and all your aloha, Taste of Hawai‘i, and hope to see you next year, even if you’re shrunk!


James “Kimo” Rosen is a humorist and photographer who lives in Kapa‘a with his dog.
Source: The Garden Island

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