Coming Up – Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

The 23rd annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has a full lineup of free multi-cultural performing arts and hands-on demonstrations, plus nearly 150 crafters and food booths 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 at various venues sprawling through town—look for pink banners identifying site locations.

Mochi Pounding

Festival parking is available at Parker Ranch Center, the soccer field across Church Row Park and Church Row Park. Festival shuttles offer free transportation among most venues 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. by Roberts Hawaii. A map of the shuttle route and festival venues is available in a detailed festival program available at each venue location February 6.

Organized by members of the upcountry community and the county’s department of parks and recreation, the festival marks the blooming of the historic cherry trees at Church Row Park and celebrates the age-old Japanese tradition of hanami, which translates to “cherry blossom viewing party.” After a seasonal winter chill, the trees typically are blooming in early February.

Mochi Sake

This year’s festival is dedicated to the Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club, which marks its 60th anniversary this year, and Waimea Arts Council, which celebrates 40 years in 2016. Honorees will be recognized at the festival’s opening ceremony. Time is 9 a.m. on the main entertainment stage at the rear of Parker Ranch Center and will be attended by Governor David Ige, Mayor Billy Kenoi, Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and Hawaii Council Representative Margaret Wille

The 2016 event artwork is a photograph by Barbara Schaefer, “Imiola Church.” The photo will appear on a limited number of collector posters available for $10 at the Waimea Arts Council’s Firehouse Gallery.

Mochi Taiko

A quick rundown of festival activities at various locations follows (times are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. unless specified otherwise).

Church Row Park

  • Historical Cherry Tree Display: Waimea Lions’ Club offers a pictorial history of the cherry trees and serves as the festival’s official Lost and Found station.
  • Entertainment: Hawaii Lion Dance Association of Oahu at 9 a.m., Shamisen by Ayano Uema at 10 a.m., Beamer-Solomon Halau O Poohala with Kumu Hula Hulali Solomon Covington at 11 a.m. and Hui Okinowan Kobudo Taiko at noon.
  • Cherry Pie Cook-off: Sponsored by District 9 County Councilmember Margaret Wille, senior clubs from Waimea, Waikoloa and North Kohala vie in the 3rd Cherry Pie Bake Off with judging at noon. Club members sell pie slices, recipe books and crafts.
  • Bonsai: The Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club offers a display and sale of bonsai, ongoing demonstrations and a clinic to discuss and work on the art of bonsai.
  • Japanese Craft Lessons at Kamuela Hongwanji: Learn the time-honored art of furoshiki (gift wrapping).
  • Asian Collectibles/Food Sales at Kamuela Hongwanji: Church organizations sell Asian-themed collectibles, lanterns made from recycled beverage cans, cherry tree seedlings and cherry blossoms in mugs; plus Asian foods: Inari sushi, chicken bowl, nishime bento, andagi and prune mui.
  • Cooking Demos at Kamuela Hongwanji: Kona-Kohala chefs offer cooking demonstrations with free samples on the hour starting 9 a.m.: Chef Jason Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Chef John Iha of Sansei Waikoloa, Chef Shintaro Takizawa of Shiono Sushi at the Mauna Lani Restaurant and Chef TK of the Lemongrass Express.

Parker Ranch Center- Hwy. 19

  • Festival Entertainment Stage: In the back parking lot. Opening 9 a.m. dedication ceremonies kick off continuous entertainment until 3 p.m.: Bon Odori Taiko accompanied by Kona Taiko, Kumu Hula Michael Pang’s Hula Halau O Ka Noeau, Boni & Doug, Darlene Ahuna, Michael Strand Band and Tai Shoji Taiko.
  • Craft Fair: Nearly 150 crafters inside Center and in the back parking lot.
  • Mochi Tsuki Pounding: Help pound mochi using 500 pounds of rice with the Kona Hongwanji Mission outside the Fireside Food Court starting 10 a.m.; samples.

Kahilu Theatre – Lindsey Road/Parker Ranch Center

  • Cultural Demos: From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy ritual Japanese tea ceremony led by Emi Wakayama, origami with Bonnie Cierni, feather lie and Japanese ikebana with Chikako Powers and hanafuda card playing.
  • Performing Arts: From 9 a.m.3 p.m. Japanese and international music led by Annu Shoko Shionoya with vocalist Kauilani Trainer and Marius Stranger, flutist Roy Kimura and dancer Shizuno Nasu; lyre harp by Miyuki Ikesue of Tokyo, flutist Yumi Kikuchi and guitar by Gen Morita. Dance concerts “Sakura Sakura” at 11 a.m. and “The Dream” at 1 p.m. Drop-in classes in hula, street jazz and circus arts.
  • Art and Film: Art displayed by Susumu Sakaguchi of Volcano and “Voyager Exhibit.” Screening of “Canefield Songs-Holehole Bushi” at 2:15 p.m.

Mana Christian Ohana Church – (Former Kahilu Town Hall) Behind Parker Ranch Center

  • Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea’s Third Biennial Festival of Quilts: Extensive quilt display and craft sale, members offer a “learn how” area and pattern tracing.
  • Kamaaina Motors Car Show: New display of vehicles at Hamakua side of parking lot.
  • Minuke‘ole Park Hanam Ceremony: 11 a.m. with planting of cherry trees

Waimea Historic Corner-Hwys. 19/190 intersection

  • Firehouse Gallery Art Demos/Exhibition: Waimea Arts Council presents art with a cherry blossom theme, sidewalk chalk drawing for all ages, plus event poster sales for $10.

Waimea School Playground-Lindsey Road/Back of Post Office

  • Waimea Homestead Farmers Market: 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Parker School-Lindsey Road

  • Waimea Town Market/Performing Arts: Outdoor market with fresh produce, food and artisan booths open 7:30 a.m.-noon with drum performances by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala-Waimea at 10 and 11 a.m.

Pukalani Stables-Pukalani and Ala Ohia Roads

  • Kamuela Farmers Market: 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; cherry tree planting 9:30 a.m., museum free all day.

Kamuela Liquors-Hwy. 19

  • Sake Tasting: Noon-3 p.m.

Ginger Farm- (old Anderson Homestead) MM 55 across from Puu Nani St. on Hwy. 19

  • Japanese Home Tour/Tea Tasting/Craft: Self-guided tour through traditional Japanese-style home and garden. Cherry tea is served and art students assist attendees to make a cherry blossom-hanging scroll. Petting zoo.

Kukio Hale Hawaiian Homes-MM 55 on Hwy. 19

  • Waimea Nui Farmer’s Market: 7 a.m.-noon

The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is produced by the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation’s Culture and Education Section. Overseen by the park’s culture education administrator, Roxcie Waltjen, the festival is a community-wide effort by a dedicated team of volunteers, 961-8706.

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