Second Saturday’s Start Soon – Pahoa Music & Art Walk

The town of Pahoa is alive and well following the recent scare from the lava flow that threatened the town during the past year.  Starting Saturday, August 8th and continuing on the Second Saturday of each month Pahoa town will host a Music & Art Walk through the town.

Pahoa Music and Art WalkThe festivities begin at 5 pm.  For more information, email SecondSaturday@LoveEternal.org or call 808-315-8984 for more information.

Act Now – Discounts Available for Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference

The 25th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference is September 25-27 at Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. All attendees registering before August 1 enjoy a discounted fee of up to $50; visit hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers.org to register online with paypal; conference forms can be found at htfg.org.  Open to the public, the event includes mini-conferences on Kauai and in Hilo.

HTFG2015Geared to farmers, educators, orchard managers and proponents of sustainable agriculture, the Thursday-Tuesday event is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).

The anniversary conference is titled “Back to Our Roots” and offers a lineup of visiting researchers and agro experts. Yaz Dixzbalis of Queensland will give the keynote address, “Cacao, Jackfruit, Hot-Water, Trellis Wires and Their Relevance to Tropical Horticulture in Australia.” Dixzbalis is an agronomist, serving as a tropical fruit horticulturist with Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. His recent research efforts involve trellising tropical fruits for improved cyclone resilience.

Other speakers and their topics include “The Fruit Explorer” Joseph Simcox, who travels the globe searching, tasting and documenting thousands of edibles. Peter Salleras will discuss a grower’s prospective of “Striving for Sustainable Tropical Tree Fruit Production in the 21st Century and Bob Shaffer presents “Soil Culture in Hawaii.”  Shaffer, agronomist for Honaunau-based Soil Culture Consulting, offers assistance to transition farms, orchards and pastures to biologically integrated farming systems using sustainable farming strategies.

HTFG Executive Director Ken Love says the conference will include USDA updates, Sunday tours with Tom Baldwin, networking and fruit tasting. In addition, Diczbalis will present a “Photo Journal of Fruitful Visits to SE Asia.”

Registration forms and fee schedule are available at www.htfg.org or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers: Marking its 26th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.htfg.org.

Orchid Show Preview Party Held in Memory of Sandy Song

This year, the benefit Preview Party that kicks off the Hilo Orchid Society’s 63rd anniversary Orchid Show and Sale is being held in memory of Sandy Song.

The Hilo Orchid Show Preview Party on Thursday, August 6 is dedicated to the late Sandra Song (right) as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging.  The late Song and Judge Andrew Wilson (left) were founding board members of Ku‘ikahi in 2016.

The Hilo Orchid Show Preview Party on Thursday, August 6 is dedicated to the late Sandra Song (right) as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging. The late Song and Judge Andrew Wilson (left) were founding board members of Ku‘ikahi in 2016.

The party is dedicated to the late Song as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging.

“It’s Ku‘ikahi’s way of honoring Sandy,” said party chair Cody Frenz.  “She did so much every year to make the preview party a success.  She donated orchids and wine, sold tickets, and garnered the loyalty of party volunteers.”

Held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, the gala features drinks, food, music, and orchid pre-sales.  Please note that the location for this year’s party and show has changed to the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.  The event is zero waste, with eco-friendly eating utensils, plus recycling/composting stations.

Each party-goer receives a souvenir glass, in order to enjoy a selection of fine wines, plus beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co.  Non-alcoholic beverages and coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill are also served.

Pupu, dinner, and dessert buffets are compliments of Island Naturals and AJ & Sons Catering, featuring the food stylings of Dean Shigeoka and Audrey Wilson, food columnist for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

“This truly is a ‘fun’-raiser.  People eat, drink, socialize, and have the first chance to shop for magnificent and rare orchid plants,” Frenz said, “And proceeds from the party benefit two non-profits: Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center and Hilo Orchid Society.”

Guests will enjoy a generous selection of fine wines at the 63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Show and Sale Preview Party.  Held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on August 6, the gala event also features beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co., coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill, and gourmet juices from Island Naturals.

Guests will enjoy a generous selection of fine wines at the 63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Show and Sale Preview Party. Held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on August 6, the gala event also features beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co., coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill, and gourmet juices from Island Naturals.

Tickets for the Preview Party are $65 ($25 of which is tax deductible) and may be purchased in advance from The Most Irresistible Shop, Hilo Coffee Mill, Day-Lum Properties, and Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center.  Or call Julie Mitchell at (808) 935-7844 x 5.  For more information, visit www.hiloorchidsociety.org/preview-party or www.hawaiimediation.org.

This Weekend – BISAC Summer Jam 2015

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council is inviting the public to come out to celebrate the fun-filled days of summer at its Summer Jam 2015 on Saturday July 25, 2015 at Waiākea High School from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

This year’s entertainment line up features New Zealand pop sensation Pieter T and Hawaiʻi’s own Nesian N.I.N.E.

Pieter T

Pieter T

Pieter T has been steadily climbing up the New Zealand radio charts since his days with the musical group, Boyband. In 2009 Pieter T debuted as a solo artist with the single “Cold Nights” followed by the singles, “Stay With Me”, “Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Something Else”, which peaked at number six on the NZ Radio Charts. His latest release is the single “Business” featuring PNC and Dei Hamo off his debut album “Life”.

Nesian N.I.N.E. (Natives Inna New Era)

Nesian N.I.N.E. (Natives Inna New Era)

Island Reggae Music group Nesian N.I.N.E. (Natives Inna New Era) hit the charts in 2009 with their Hōkū-nominated album “Press Play,” and has been going strong ever since, appearing with BoyZ II Men, Klymaxx, El Debarge and others.

Other featured artists in the line up include, 2014 Brown Bags to Stardom winners One Rhythm 808, Beyond Paradise, and Kolea.

“It’s really very exciting to once again have so many talented artists coming to play at the Summer Jam,” said BISAC CEO Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita.

This year’s event will also feature a National Qualifier Strongman Competition, ‘ono food and keiki crafts and activities including the Zoo Choo, Bouncy Houses, Human Hamster Ball, Laser Tag, Bungee Run and a Sticky Wall. Keiki ride wristbands purchased online are 50% off. Entry is a $2 suggested donation.

All funds raised above the cost of producing the event go towards BISAC’s adult and school-based Poʻokela Vocational program, Mom and Babies program, and Keiki School Based Services.

For more information about BISAC’s Summer Jam go to www.summerjamhawaii.com.

 

Wordless Wednesday – Food and Art?

Famous Hawaii Chef Sam Choy was spotted at the Kona Airport with artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker earlier today.

Renowned Tiki Artist Brad Parker seen chatting up & travelling with Celebrity Chef Sam Choy today at Kona Airport.

Renowned Tiki Artist Brad Parker seen chatting up & travelling with Celebrity Chef Sam Choy today at Kona Airport.

Parker’s agent Abbas Hassan said, “Big local news story is to follow next month”.

Chef Sam Choy was also seen traveling today with Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s well connected agent Abbas Hassan at Kona Airport

Chef Sam Choy was also seen traveling today with Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s well connected agent Abbas Hassan at Kona Airport

Anyone know what’s cooking?

63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show and Sale

The 63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show and Sale: ORCHIDS AVANT-GARDE takes place August 7th (9am-6pm), 8th  (9am-5pm) and 9th  (10am-2pm).

The Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium is the site for the Hilo Orchid Society’s 61st Annual Orchid Show and Sale. The Preview Party on Thursday evening, August 1, gives ticket holders the first opportunity to see the lush displays and buy orchids, plants, and related products.

The Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium is the site for the Hilo Orchid Society’s 63rd Annual Orchid Show and Sale. The Preview Party on Thursday evening, August 1, gives ticket holders the first opportunity to see the lush displays and buy orchids, plants, and related products.

Thousands of orchids in displays created by top notch growers and amateurs entice audiences in this three day spectacle at the Afook-Chinen Auditorium in Hilo, Hawaii. Visitors can expect to see exotic species, beautifully grown specimen plants and the latest hybrids, many created by Big Island orchid breeders.

Judging of plants will be conducted on Thursday August 6th by certified American Orchid Society judges with dozens of trophies and ribbons awarded.  There will also be a preview party Thursday night.  Information about orchids and their cultivation will be offered in free mini-classes conducted by experts during the show.  Orchids Avant-Garde will feature a refreshment area with a silent auction, and entertainment each afternoon.  Sales areas offer orchid and plant related products plus, of course, magnificent orchids for purchase, including many you won’t find in your typical retail garden store or nursery.  Purchases may be shipped to the mainland.  For more information, call (808)756-8145 or go to www.hiloorchidsociety.org.

Hawaii Farm Bureau Launches Publication

The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation (HFBF) announces the launch of a new four-color, glossy magazine, Hawai‘i Farm & Food. The print and online publication is a media partnership between the statewide Farm Bureau and Pacific Basin Communications-the renowned publisher of Hawai‘i’s largest magazine group, whose portfolio includes Hawaii Business, HONOLULU Magazine and HAWAII Magazine.

Catherine Toth Fox will serve as the editor

Catherine Toth Fox will serve as the editor

“Hawai‘i Farm & Food will delve into issues facing Hawai‘i’s agricultural industries, unique specialty crops and commodity groups”, says HFBF president Chris Manfredi of Ka’u Farm and Ranch on the Big Island. “This new magazine will bring the challenges of Hawai‘i’s farmers, ranchers and aquaculturists to the forefront to help people better understand how food is produced and brought to store shelves. Think of it as a farm tour you can hold in your hand. We’re particularly excited that the publication’s app will be available for free on iTunes – and we’re thrilled to be working with the professionals at Pacific Basin Communications,” notes Manfredi.

Hawai‘i Farm and Food will feature farmers and their stories from across the state, updates on legislative issues, chef highlights of Hawai‘i-grown products, recipes and events supporting local agriculture.

Freelance journalist and blogger Catherine Toth Fox of O‘ahu will serve as Editor. The inaugural issue will premiere with a circulation of 5,000 printed copies and unlimited digital access for the mainstream audience.

The magazine will be direct-mailed to all HFBF members, available for free pick-up at the Farm Bureau Farmers’ Markets and various other outlets, and digital download on iTunes. Visit hfbf.org for a current listing. For advertising and sponsorship opportunities please contact Sharon Spear, publisher at 808-534-7528 or sharons@pacificbasin.net.

The Hawaii Farm Bureau is comprised of nearly 2,000 member families in 11 county chapters located across the state: East O’ahu, Hamakua, Hilo, Ka‘u, Kaua’i, Kohala, Kona, Maui, Moloka‘i, South O‘ahu and West O‘ahu. HFB serves as Hawai‘i’s “Voice of Agriculture,” to protect, advocate and advance the social, economic and educational interest of the state’s diverse agricultural community. To learn more, visit www.hfbf.org or phone 808-848-2074.

Cruise Paradise 2015 Scheduled on the Big Island

The Hawai`i Classic Cruisers (HCC) organization has hosted the largest classic/vintage car cruise in the State of Hawaii every three years (“Cruise Paradise”) since 2000. This year, “Cruise Paradise 2015” is scheduled from June 25, 2015 through July 5, 2015 throughout the Big Island of Hawaii.

Art by Robert Wong

Art by Robert Wong

Car enthusiasts from across the globe, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon, Texas, California and Nevada (just to name a few) are committed to ship their classic/vintage vehicles to Hilo and participate in this event. Neighbor island car enthusiasts from Oahu and Maui also ship their classic/vintage vehicles for this event and join our very own local car enthusiasts from the Big Island to participate in 10 fun-filled days of cruising with the classics. Those traveling from away, finance their own transportation of their vehicle(s) to get to the Big Island harbors.

Participants pay $20 to enter one vehicle and $10 for each vehicle thereafter. This fee allows their vehicle entry into all show and shine events. One-day passes are available for $10 per vehicle at a single event of their choice. It will cost approximately $50,000+ to put on this 10-day event. Expenses include insurances, permits, facility rentals, advertising, professional services, audio/visual services, equipment rental, etc. T-shirts, hats and memorabilia of this event are available for purchase.

Cruise Paradise 2015 is a great opportunity that allows for the Hawaii Classic Cruisers to partner with the community, the County of Hawaii and businesses to showcase and promote our beautiful island. Spectators can participate in this free, fun, family-oriented 10-day event that puts the Big Island on the map of the world with other hot rod organizations.

During Cruise Paradise 2012, over 400 classic vehicles geared up for car shows on the Big Island that attracted over 10,000 spectators in Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa. Residents and visitors walked away from past events extremely satisfied and inspired by the camaraderie and vehicles displayed. The past success of this event resulted in many community members, neighbor islanders and out-of-state participants requesting a repeat of this event.

To enhance the 2015 4th of July (Independence Day) celebration, hundreds of vintage and modified classic cars will be on display for the day in Downtown Hilo Bayfront on July 4. All participants absorb the cost of buying/building a classic car and getting their rides ready for the show-and-shine events. The public is invited to view, photo and experience a part of the past that will rekindle fond memories for the kupuna and create fresh ones for the keiki.

cruise Paradise cars

Car owners receive compliments for displaying their classic/vintage cars at the show-and-shine events. The ambiance of having hundreds of classics in one location and friendly interaction experienced by a diversified group of people has been a true inspiration for car enthusiasts.

Throughout Cruise Paradise 2015, car enthusiasts will burn over 7,500 gallons of fuel, travel over a total of 90,000 miles and spend $23,000 in fuel costs alone. Some vehicles anticipate traveling approximately 600 miles over the 10 days getting about 10-12 miles per gallon of fuel. Car enthusiasts will travel across the island, lodge at various hotels and condominiums, eat at local eateries and shop in our malls, shops and supermarkets. This event is an incredible boost to our local economy.

HCC President, Herbert Leite says, “We are extremely pleased and thankful for the support from the County of Hawaii, local community and car enthusiasts. Car owners invest a lot of time and money building and/or buying their classic vehicles. It gives them great pleasure to share their prized 4-wheeled rides with the community.

We are honored to bring this event to the Big Island this year at no cost to the spectators. We could not make this happen without the help of our 30+ local and mainland sponsors. Hawaii Classic Cruisers thanks NAPA Auto Parts for being the primary financial sponsor of Cruise Paradise since 2000. Other sponsors who contribute significant funding to make this event possible include Orchid Isle Auto Center and DeLuz Chevrolet. Approximately 25+ other sponsors collectively contribute about 25% of the funds needed.

Everyone is encouraged to participate and make this one to remember.”

More information can be found at www.hawaiiclassiccruisers.com

 

2015 Big Island Film Festival Announces Winners

The 2015 Big Island Film Festival held at the Fairmont Orchid is wrapping up tonight with a concert by the Rough Riders.

Arielle Kebbel received the 2015 Golden Honu Award for "Rising Actress" from Big Island Film Festival Director Leo Sears.

Arielle Kebbel received the 2015 Golden Honu Award for “Actress On The Rise” from Big Island Film Festival Director Leo Sears.

This years celebrity honorees were Arielle Kebbel and Will Estes.

Will Estes with his Golden Honu Award for Best Actor.

Will Estes with his Golden Honu Award for Actor of the Year.

This morning at a luncheon reception, winners of this years awards were announced:

Screenplay Awards
· Finalists – Debbie the Viking, War 2.0
· First Place – Garbagemen

Golden Honu Awards
· Shorts
Best Student Short – Sin Frontera
Best Hawaii Short – The Fishing Club Movie
Best Family Short – Butterfiles
Best Foreign Short – The Rabbit
Best Short – Our Father
Best Special Effects – The Sun Devil and The Princess

· Features
Best Foreign Feature – Patterson’s Wager
Best Family Feature – Under The Blood Red Sun
Best Feature – WildLike
Barbara Award – Jilel – The Calling of the Shell Microwave Films of the Marshall Islands

Audience Choice Feature – Honeyglue

Audience Choice Short – Butterflies

2015 Big Island Film Festival 110Congrats to everyone who submitted films and were selected to participate in this years festival.  All the films were excellent!

2015 Big Island Taiko Festival

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performing Arts Center presents the Big Island Taiko Festival 2015 featuring Taishoji Taiko, Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko, Puna Hongwanji Taiko Club, Kona Daifukuji Taiko, and Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko. Performances are Saturday, May 23, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, May 24, at 2 pm.

Taiko
“This exhilarating weekend of vibrant drumming and physical choreography brings together the best of Big Island Taiko,” said PAC Manager and Festival Producer Lee Dombroski. “Taishoji Taiko, under the direction of Chad Nakagawa, was founded under the direction of Yoshihumi Ono at Taishoji Soto Mission in Hilo. Their energetic, dramatic style will have the audience feeling the rhythm right to their core!”

Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko, under the guidance of Advisor Milton Yafuso and Troy Sakihara, practices and performs a drumming style based on Okinawan martial arts. “Our three-fold mission builds leadership and promotes and preserves the interest in and appreciation for the history and traditions of Okinawan culture and the arts,” explained Yafuso.

The Puna Hongwanji Taiko Club, under the direction of Rev. Earl Ikeda and Paul Sakamoto, was founded in 2003 by Rev. Ikeda as a community-focused group with drummers of all ages and experience, striving to perpetuate taiko as a cultural and recreational activity.

Kona Daifukuji Taiko was founded in 1988 by Rev. Tamiya and his wife and is comprised of youth from elementary through high school following the directions of their instructors, Akemi Iwamoto and Amy Nakade.
Orchid Taikos
This year, the Festival adds Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko from Kohala. Imported from Okinawa and nurtured by Akemi Martin Sensei, the group now boasts over 100 active members across the Hawaiian Islands.

Tickets are General Admission and priced at $10 General, $5 Seniors, UH students (with valid ID) and Children 17 and under. Box Office hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 932-7490 or ordering online at artscenter.uhh.hawaii.edu.

Big Island Chocolate Festival Announces Winners

Culinary entries from across the state were tapped winners at last night’s Big Island Chocolate Festival. Chefs, chocolatiers and students were critiqued on taste, texture, appearance and creativity by a team of celebrity judges during the three-day festival.

Professional winners of the BICF gala were from left: Hilton Waikoloa Village Chef Dayne Tanabe, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm, Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate, Fairmont Orchid Pastry Chef Daniel Sampson and Executive Fairmont Orchid Chef Hubert Des Marais.

Professional winners of the BICF gala were from left: Hilton Waikoloa Village Chef Dayne Tanabe, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm, Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate, Fairmont Orchid Pastry Chef Daniel Sampson and Executive Fairmont Orchid Chef Hubert Des Marais.

Event host The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i was cited in three categories for best plated dessert, bean to bar and the People’s Choice award. The Hilton Waikoloa Village earned best savory while Madre Chocolate took top bonbons.

Likao Kula Farm of Holualoa bested 11 entries to win the inaugural cacao processing category.

“The processing of the cacao bean—its fermenting and drying—is an important step in the flavor and quality of chocolate and we’re happy our local growers competed in this new competition category,” said Farsheed Bonkadar, president of the Kona Cacao Association.

UH-Maui College won the morning community college culinary competition led by Chef Instructor Teresa Shurilla (with plaque). Students from left are Devin Galloway, Noelle Bender, Yi Song, Taylor McGraw and Clarissa Logsdon.

UH-Maui College won the morning community college culinary competition led by Chef Instructor Teresa Shurilla (with plaque). Students from left are Devin Galloway, Noelle Bender, Yi Song, Taylor McGraw and Clarissa Logsdon.

Culinary students from University of Hawai‘i-Maui College won the morning student competition besting second place Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo and third place Hawai‘i Community College-West Hawai‘i. Students prepared elaborate plated desserts using chocolate.

Commenting on the competitions, Bonkadar added, “The caliber of entries continues to improve and it’s rewarding to see how both student and professional culinarians use chocolate in both sweet and savory recipes.”

Heading the team of judges for the two competitions were celebrity chefs Stanton Ho, Guittard’s Donald Wressell, Valrhona Chocolate’s Derek Poirier and Sam Choy of Keauhou’s Kai Lanai restaurant. Other team judges included Elizabeth McDonald of Maui’s B3 A Beach Bunny Bakery; Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; Steven Arakaki of Kukio Golf & Beach Club; Chris Speere of UH-Maui College and Daniel Sampson of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. Teresa Shurilla of UH-Maui College oversaw the judging.

The real winners of the fourth annual festival are two beneficiaries: the Equip the Kitchens campaign for the future Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui and Kona Pacific Public Charter School.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival not only heralds Hawai’i’s growing cacao industry, but also the culinarians who masterfully create foods featuring chocolate.

In addition to last night’s gala, the three-day festival offered a full lineup of chocolate decadence from planting to plating: a Kona cacao farm tour, plus growing and processing seminars and how-to culinary demonstrations.

Visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com for updates on next year’s event.

The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

 

Big Island Author Receives Top Honor at Hawaii Book Publishers Association Awards

Waimea resident and nationally best-selling author Darien Gee received the Award of Excellence in Special Interest Books at the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association’s 2015 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards for Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story, released by Honolulu-based Watermark Publishing.

Darien Gee

Darien Gee

The Award of Excellence is the highest honor in the category. The awards, which recognize the best local books published during the previous calendar year, were announced at ceremonies held on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the East-West Center.

“What an amazing gift it would be for the Hawaiian Islands and the rest of the world if more people started to write down what might otherwise be lost,” the competition’s judges observed in their comments. “Writing your memoir or telling your family history is something special to think about [but] it’s a daunting task to actually sit down and know where to begin. Darien Gee has solved this problem. [This] book takes you through the process step by step…it takes the stress out of where and how to start and offers you the tools and encouragement to help keep the stories alive, documented for the generations to come. The format of Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is inspiring in itself, creative and original in its design.”

Gee is a nationally best-selling author with six novels to her credit; Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is her first non-fiction release. A former columnist for the North Hawaii News (“Writer’s Corner”), she continues to write fiction (also under the pen name Mia King) and teaches writing and publishing workshops.

“I was lucky to connect with so many Hawai‘i writers on this project, many of whom gave me their best advice on the writing process and how to handle challenges and roadblocks,” Gee says. Six of the 21 other writers whose advice Gee sprinkles liberally throughout the book are also current and former Big Island residents: Dr. Billy Bergin, Frances H. Kakugawa, Leslie Lang, Mark Panek, Phil Slott and the late Patricia Jennings. In addition, Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir features work from Gee’s Big Island students and workshop participants Christian Gomez, Levi Higa, Ryan Hooley, Kai Ibana, George Manu, Elsbeth McKeen, Arielle Faith Michael, Kamuela Spencer-Herring and Taran Takahashi. Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is introduced with a pule from Rev. Danny Akaka, Jr., and dedicated to community treasure Stephanie Bengene Lindsey, aka Aunty Tūtū.

Watermark Publishing swept the Special Interest Books category with Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir taking the top prize and Honorable Mention in the category going to The Hawaiian Survival Handbook by award-winning Hawaiian musician (and lifelong outdoorsman) Brother Noland, illustrated by Andrew J. Catanzariti and designed by Jen Tadaki Catanzariti. The Hawaiian Survival Handbook received further recognition with an Honorable Mention for Design.

Each year, the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association presents the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards to honor the best of Hawai‘i book publishing from the previous year. “Ka Palapala Po‘okela” literally translated from Hawaiian means “excellent manuscript.”

Hawaii State Lawmakers Star in “Capitol Idol III” – Talent Show Raises Money for the Hawai‘i Foodbank

Brave members of the Legislative and Executive branches of our state government will showcase their hidden talents when they take the stage for a good cause.

capital

Capitol Idol III kicks off on Monday, April 20 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. The public is invited to the show where members of the Senate and the Ige Administration vie for the audience’s support in the hopes of winning the perpetual individual and team trophies, not to mention major bragging rights. This year’s show will be emceed by radio show host, actor and former State Representative Devon Nekoba.

The event is FREE, but state employees will be voting for their favorite acts by purchasing $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrip. The winner of Capitol Idol III will be the act with the most votes (scrip). There is no limit to the number of scrip a state employee can purchase.

In 2012, Capitol Idol raised $1400 for the Hawai‘i Foodbank and in 2014, $1700 was collected. “This is the time of the year when my fellow colleagues voluntarily offer themselves up for public scrutiny and possible embarrassment all to support an incredibly important agency in our community, the Hawai‘i Foodbank,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, the show’s organizer. “We want to encourage everyone to join us in supporting this worthy cause and have a good time smiling and laughing with us as well.”

Past performances have been a lineup of Legislators singing original songs, juggling, dancing hula and more.  Previous winners have been Representative Marcus Oshiro dressed in drag, dancing and belting out “I Will Survive” and Blake “Disco” Oshiro of the Governor’s office. With his Executive branch dancers, Oshiro stole the show last year.

So who will be the next champion in Capitol Idol III?  Join us to find out!

‘Chocolate Soirée’ Dinner a Prelude to Big Island Chocolate Festival

As a prelude to Big Island Chocolate Festival, local event planning and catering company The Feeding Leaf presents the premier “Chocolate Soirée” dinner on Thursday, May 7, 5-8 p.m. at Kokoleka Lani Farms.

Chef Scott Hiraishi, Tracey and Les Apoliona of the Feeding Leaf

Chef Scott Hiraishi, Tracey and Les Apoliona of the Feeding Leaf

The seven-course feast features Original Hawaiian Chocolate, savory and sweet, in dishes created by notable chefs like Stanton Ho (Amoretti), Clayton Arakawa (Mauna Lani Resort), Angela Smith (Sweet Eatz), and Scott Hiraishi (The Feeding Leaf), assisted by culinary students from University of Hawai‘i Center—West Hawai‘i Campus.

Also providing chocolate for the Soirée, Kokoleka Lani Farms is a working cacao farm in Keauhou, run by Greg Colden and Marty Corrigan, owner-operators of Kona Natural Soap Company. By special arrangement, the exclusive Chocolate Soirée event begins in their retail shop, with passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by the culinary students. Dinner will be served family-style in their adjacent home.

Chocolate cocktail concoctions will be provided by mixologist and general manager Keith Malini of Ray’s on the Bay, the oceanfront restaurant at Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. Ray’s on the Bay has also selected fine wines to serve with the elegant farm-to-fork feast, and the restaurant will feature one of the signature chocolate entrees on their dinner menu in the days leading up to the event.

“The Chocolate Soirée is a fun way for us to do some education. It gives the students a chance to work with top chefs in a unique environment, and to work with the more unusual Hawai‘i Island ingredients they don’t see or use every day,” said The Feeding Leaf General Manager Les Apoliona.

“It gives our guests a chance to learn about new and different aspects of local chocolate while they enjoy a beautiful, exclusive dinner at the source,” he said. “We’re so grateful to Greg and Marty for opening their home and their cacao farm for us. And, with two more days of chocolate indulgence Friday and Saturday, we think this will be and outstanding pre-event for Big Island Chocolate Festival.”

Tickets for Chocolate Soirée are limited to 100 at $125 per person, including cocktails and wines, available at Kona Wine Market and Westside Wines, online at wew.eventbrite.com/e/chocolate-soiree-tickets-16328176014, or by calling 808-325-3803. Big Island Chocolate Festival takes place May 8-9 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, with Chocolate Gala, Seminars, Chocolate Competition and more. Part of the proceeds benefit American Culinary Federation/Kona Kohala Chefs Association scholarships.

The Feeding Leaf catering and event company specializes in Hawai‘i-raised food for quality private parties, wine events, weddings, birthdays and other happy occasions. For more information, contact Les Apoliona, (808) 325-3803, thefeedingleaf@gmail.com, visit www.thefeedingleaf.com, or Facebook.com/thefeedingleaf.

Ka’u Coffee Festival – April 24 to May 3

Showcasing all that makes the rural District of Ka’u so special, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival perks with activities for all ages April 24-May 3. Now in its seventh year, the festival not only showcases Ka‘u’s multi, award-winning coffees at numerous events, but also features stargazing, a rainforest hike and much more.

Kau Mountain Water System. Photo by Jesse Tunison

Kau Mountain Water System. Photo by Jesse Tunison

“We’ve got something for everyone to enjoy over 10 days,” says Chris Manfredi, festival organizer. “While all of last year’s great events return to the festival, we’re always trying to exceed the expectations of our guests. When you have a vibrant community producing some of the finest coffee grown anywhere, my job is actually pretty easy. We’ve added a second mauka hike to keep up with popular demand.”

One popular reprise is the tasty recipe contest using Ka’u coffee as an ingredient. The Ka’u Coffee Recipe Contest offers friendly competition in pupu, entrée and dessert categories Saturday, April 25 at the Ka’u Coffee Mill. During the 2 p.m. judging, enjoy free entertainment, coffee and recipe sampling.  Contest entry is free and the deadline is April 19. Visit www.kaucoffeefestival.com.

The Pahala Community Center is the new venue for the annual Miss K‘au Coffee Pageant where doors open at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. Contestants aged 17-24 are judged in talent and gown categories and win prizes and local fame, according to pageant chair Gloria Camba.  Participants also vie for Most Photogenic, Miss Congeniality and Miss Popularity.  Admission is $10 with additional donations appreciated; door prizes will be awarded.

The highlight of the 10-day activity lineup is the free Ka’u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday, May 2 that sprawls both inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. New this year, admission into the tasty Ka‘u Coffee Experience is free and coffee enthusiasts can sample professional barista-guided tastings of Ka‘u coffees prepared a variety of ways—like a pour-over. French press or cold brew—9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Outside, ho‘olaue‘a attendees can talk story with friendly coffee farmers at gaily decorated booths with free sampling. Also on tap are “broke da mouth” food booths serving hot plate lunches, fresh baked goods and ethnic, local-style treats by local community organizations. Enjoy lunch in the outdoor pavilion or grassy lawn while treated to non-stop, local entertainment. Keiki can enjoy outdoor games.

Find out how coffee is grown, picked and processed during informative Ka’u Coffee Farm & Mill Tours. Sign up at the ho‘olaule‘a for the informative $20 tours, complete with shuttle transport, departing 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Enter the Buy Local It Matters promotion by visiting festival sponsors and redeeming purchase receipts and business cards at the ho‘olaule‘a for chances to win exciting prizes.

The festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. Most events are free while others require a nominal fee. A full schedule of events and Ka‘u activity recommendations follows. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com to learn more.

On Friday, April 24, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House featuring music, hula, food and house tours. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. Hosted by Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Free, donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund.  www.kaucoffeefest.com, www.pahalaplantationcottages.com. 808-928-9811.

On Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m. The free Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest hosts a cooking competition at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Entries made with Ka’u coffee are accepted in pupu, entree and dessert categories. Free coffee tasting. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call Lisa at 808-928-0550.

On Sunday, April 26, the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant showcases the crowning of Miss Ka‘u Coffee and Miss Ka‘u Peaberry. Doors open 6 p.m. at the Pahala Community Center. Visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae – the southernmost place in the U.S., and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Stay in one of the many accommodations in Ka‘u. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations.

On Wednesday, April 29 and Thursday, April 30 explore flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Limited to 30, $40 includes lunch.  Visit www.kaucoffeemill.com or phone 808-928-0550.

On Friday, May 1 enjoy Coffee & Cattle Day 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm.  Find out how descendants of Ka‘u’s first coffee farmer integrate coffee with other agriculture.  $25 fee includes an all-you can eat buffet. Visit www.aikaneplantation.com or phone 808-927-2252.

On Friday, May 1 observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30-10 p.m. $35 with refreshments and shuttle transportation. Sign up at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550.

On Saturday, May 2 tantalize your taste buds at the friendly Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of local music, hula, food booths, local crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, coffee tastings and farm/mill tours headquartered inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. Festival entry is free; Ka‘u Coffee Experience offers guided coffee tastings 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Farm tours with shuttle transport are 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m., $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

On Sunday, May 3 learn about the coffee industry at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. The Coffee College hosts educational seminars and a reverse trade mission. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival: Founded in coffee traditions hailing to the 1800s—plus the hard work of former sugar plantation workers—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information and festival updates, visit kaucoffeefest.com, follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter, or call 808-929-9550.

 

10th Annual Laupahoehoe Music Festival

The 10th Annual Laupahoehoe Music Festival is 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park.

Non-profit organization Malama Hawaii Nei along with Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School have organized the festival this year to help raise scholarship money for Laupahoehoe area students and to fund community projects.

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Organized in 2005 under the foresight of Laupahoehoe resident musician Braddah Smitty, the nonprofit Malama Hawaii Nei has awarded nearly $27,000 in scholarships to date. Under the current plan, every student who applies receives a scholarship.

This year’s Hawaiian-style event features some of the island’s best music and hula entertainers performing at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park, noted for its sacred and natural beauty and was a regular stopover by Kamehameha in his canoe voyaging conquest of the islands.

Tickets are $12 in advance at Hilo Guitars, Basically Books and Hilo Music Exchange in Hilo, and Sakado Store in Laupahoehoe, Taro Patch and Grandma’s Kitchen in Honokaa, and in Kona at Music Exchange, or $15 at the gate. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.LaupahoehoeMusicFestival.org Age 10 and under free.

It’s a day of music, music, music, ono grinds and crafts. Drinks available on site. No coolers please.  This is an alcohol- and drug-free event.

For more information, call (808) 962-2200 or email gerry.delgado@lcpcs.org

USS Chung-Hoon to Visit Hilo for Merrie Monarch Festival

The Pearl Harbor-based Aegis-class guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) will visit Hilo April 10-12 to participate in the 52nd  annual Merrie Monarch Festival.

Me at the helm of the USS Chung Hoon during 2010 RIMPAC Exercises

Me at the helm of the USS Chung Hoon during 2010 RIMPAC Exercises

U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will march and perform in the Merrie Monarch Parade. Capt. Mark Manfredi, Chief of Staff, Navy Region Hawaii, will also attend the festivities.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

USS Chung-Hoon will greet the Merrie Monarch Royal Court during a pierside welcome ceremony at Hilo Harbor Pier 1 on Friday, April 10 at 11 a.m.  USS Chung-Hoon Sailors, along with Capt. Manfredi, will attend the hula competitions and participate with Pacific Fleet Band in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on Saturday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m. along downtown Hilo.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Chung-Hoon is a guided-missile destroyer that is a multi-mission, anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatant.
Cmdr. Ryan Collins is the commanding officer and leads a crew of more than 270.

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

USS Chung-Hoon is named for Rear Admiral Gordon Pai`ea Chung-Hoon, the first native Hawaiian admiral in the U.S. Navy.  Admiral Chung-Hoon was assigned to the USS Arizona on the morning of December 7, 1941; and nearly 70 years ago on April 14, 1945, the admiral received the Navy Cross during World War II after a kamikaze attack that killed several members of his crew and severely damaged his ship, USS Sigsbee. USS Chung-Hoon is one of eleven surface ships homeported in Pearl Harbor.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Host BioBlitz 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s diverse ecological zones provide refuge for many distinct plant and animal communities, including endangered endemic species such as the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), and the Mauna Loa silversword, which flowers only once in its life.

An endemic nēnē (Hawaiian goose) feeds on indigenous naupaka kahakai (beach naupaka) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

An endemic nēnē (Hawaiian goose) feeds on indigenous naupaka kahakai (beach naupaka) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The fascinating geology and biology are vital components of the cultural heritage of indigenous Hawaiian people. To better understand, appreciate and protect this natural and cultural treasure, the National Park Service and National Geographic are hosting a two-day BioBlitz species count and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival on Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, 2015.

Crater Rim Trail winds through the native rainforest surrounding Kīlauea caldera in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Jessica Ferracane

Crater Rim Trail winds through the native rainforest surrounding Kīlauea caldera in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Jessica Ferracane

Themed I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns”), the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is part scientific endeavor, part outdoor classroom excursion and part celebration of biodiversity and culture. It will bring together more than 150 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, more than 750 students and thousands from the general public. Together, they will be dispatched across the park’s 333,086 acres to explore and document the biodiversity that thrives in recent lava flows and native rain forests of Kīlauea volcano.

“We are honored to host BioBlitz 2015,” said Cindy Orlando, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s superintendent. “BioBlitz provides an unparalleled opportunity to work alongside leading scientists and cultural practitioners to discover, count and add to the park’s species list; to explore the interconnectedness of plants, animals, Hawaiian people and our daily lives; and to protect this amazing biodiversity and rich culture in our park.”

In connection with the BioBlitz opportunity, the park is moving its 35th annual Cultural Festival from July to May this year and expanding it to include biodiversity. At the two-day festival, visitors of all ages will discover how native Hawaiians lived closely to the land as its stewards, embodying “I ka nānā no a ‘ike” principles that continue today.

Hālau hula Ulumano o Palikū, shown here performing in the 2013 Cultural Festival, return to perform in the 2015 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival.  NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Hālau hula Ulumano o Palikū, shown here performing in the 2013 Cultural Festival, return to perform in the 2015 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

The Biodiversity & Cultural Festival will offer hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art and entertainment, plus the opportunity to meet individuals and organizations at the forefront of conservation, science and traditional Hawaiian culture — and to learn how to join their efforts. The festival is free and open to the public.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is the ninth in a series of 10 BioBlitzes co-hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service at different national parks across the country, leading up the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.

Keiki (children) examine insects with an entomologist in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

Keiki (children) examine insects with an entomologist in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

“Each year, the BioBlitz evolves,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president of Research, Conservation and Exploration. “Last year we moved away from paper data sheets and used smartphones and the iNaturalist app to photograph, identify and map species finds, adding more detailed information to both Park Service and international species databases. This year, we are going to build on that and blend technology with Hawaiian culture. This exciting, holistic approach will enhance our appreciation for the amazing resources in this breathtaking park and establish a more complete model for scientific exploration in Hawai‘i and around the globe.”

A longtime partner of the National Park Service, the National Geographic Society helped draft legislation to establish the Service in 1916. It has given many grants to create and sustain national parks across the United States and has extensively covered the parks in its media for nearly a century.

The BioBlitz program is the latest successful collaboration between the two partners. The first BioBlitz took place in 2007 at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Others have been held at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California in 2008; Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 2009; Biscayne National Park in Florida in 2010; Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011; Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado, in 2012; Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside New Orleans in 2013; and last year in Golden Gate National Parks in Northern California. Smaller-scale events take place throughout the year at various national parks across the country. For more information, visit nature.nps.gov/biology/biodiversity/.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz has been made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., the Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, Edmund C. Olson Trust II, Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Additionally, generous corporate support for the event has been provided by Kona Brewing Company, KapohoKine Adventures, First Hawaiian Bank, Roberts Hawai‘i, Alaska Airlines and Big Island Candies. In-kind donations from local business and organizations have been received from Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company LLC, KTA Super Stores, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawai‘i Forest & Trail and Aloha Crater Lodge.

How to Get Involved:

Public registration is now open. To be part of a scientist-led inventory team, participants must register online at nationalgeographic.com/bioblitz. Participation on inventory teams is limited and spots will be filled on a first-come basis. Children ages 8 and older, accompanied by adults, may participate in the free inventory opportunities.

Everybody can enjoy hands-on fun at the Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. BioBlitz base camp and the Biodiversity & Cultural Festival will be located at the Kahua Hula overlooking Halema‘uma‘u Crater near the Kīlauea Visitors Center in the park. No registration is required for the festival.  Entrance fees are waived for both days. To learn more about BioBlitz and the festival, visit nationalgeographic.com/bioblitz or call (800) 638-6400, ext. 6186. For more information about the parks, visit nps.gov/havo.

Big Island Chocolate Festival Expands

Craving chocolate? Who doesn’t? The fourth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival delivers with an array of fun, elegant and taste-tempting activities, seminars and culinary adventures May 7-9.
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Most of the chocolatey goodness will be offered at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, but three new events take place at Kona farms.

Thursday, May 7: The festival lineup starts 9 a.m.-noon with a hands-on, chocolate-making class Thursday, May 7 by Una Greenaway at her Kuaiwi Farm in Captain Cook. Next up is a 5-9 p.m. farm-to-plate, chocolate-themed dinner at Kokoleka Lani cacao farm in Holualoa.

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Dubbed a “Chocolate Soiree,” the scrumptious, seven-course meal will be prepared by celebrity pastry chef Stanton Ho, Clayton Arakawa of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows and Scott Hiraishi of The Feeding Leaf.

Friday, May 8: Find public culinary demonstrations and agriculture-themed seminars at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i starting at noon with “Cacao Fermentation and Chocolate Micro-Terroir” by Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate. “Hawai‘i Cacao Farming-Tree-to-Bar” is presented 1 p.m. by Tom Menezes of Hawaiian Crown Hilo and Una Greenaway of Kuaiwi Farms.

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Learn “How to Make Your Own Decadent (but Simple) Chocolate Dessert Creation” during demonstrations by Ecole Valrhona Western USA Pastry Chef Derek Poirier at 2 p.m. and Chef Stanton Ho at 3:30 p.m. Geared for home cooks, each culinary seminar offers sampling.

Saturday, May 9: The festival moves 9 a.m. to Kokoleka Lani Farm to see how cacao is grown and used in the production of Kona Natural Soap Company products. Also during this time, statewide college food service students compete in a culinary competition using chocolate at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.

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The contest is open to the public for viewing 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; come cheer on these future chefs! Winners of the annual contest will be announced that evening during the gala.

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Chocolate fun culminates 5:30-9 p.m. in the Fairmont’s Grand Ballroom for the festival gala. Attendees can enjoy both savory and sweet chocolate cuisine by top island chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners while voting for their favorite culinary station.

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Diners can also visit the “all you can enjoy” mole and salad bars.

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Also on tap will be fine wines and handcrafted ales, Bacardi cocktails, chocolate sculpting by Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company, chocolate body painting, a photo booth and a silent auction. Culinary tasting will be accompanied by harp and violin duo String Beings, followed by a disc jockey offering dance music from 8-9 p.m.

Big Island Chocolate Festival 082Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the “Equip the Kitchens” campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and a capital campaign to build a community kitchen at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

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Find pricing details and ticket locations at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Gala admission is $75 with VIP tickets for $100. Purchase Friday seminars online as four classes for $75 or at the door individually at $30 each. The Kokoleka Lani Farm tour is $25. To book the $50 Kuaiwi Farm chocolate-making class, phone 808-328-8888. Purchase $125 Chocolate Soiree tickets, at http://bit.ly/ChocolateFarmToPlate.

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Special room rates of $299 including breakfast for two are being offering by the Fairmont Orchid. For accommodations, book with the hotel at 808-885-2000 and mention “Big Island Chocolate Festival.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

New TripAdvisor Accolades for Waikoloa Beach Resort

TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel site, has ranked Waikoloa Beach Resort as 7th on its list of “Top U.S. Destinations for Vacation Rental Stays.” Based on TripAdvisor reviews, the luxury Kohala Coast resort bested Las Vegas, Nevada and two other Hawaii destinations.  Hilton 1

Along with the Top 10 list, TripAdvisor also published results of its recent survey of 1,800 travelers. According to that study, 59 percent of participants plan to stay at a vacation rental this year. Vacationers value cost-savings, space and quality amenities, and place a high priority on having a kitchen.

Hilton 2“Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular as more travelers discover the outstanding amenities, comfort, and value a rental can offer,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “With summer the most popular time for vacation rental stays, savvy travelers should book early for the best options.”  Hilton Waikoloa Village Skyview

With a wide range of vacation rental units within its 1,350 acre boundaries, as well as 30+ dining options, two shopping centers, two golf courses, two resort hotels and a full schedule of entertainment and activities, Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned recognition as one of Hawaii’s top destinations. Last December, the property was ranked 8th on TripAdvisor’s list of “Destinations on the Rise” in the United States.

If you look closely you can see a hot tub in the cave pool

If you look closely you can see a hot tub in the cave pool

“To be named on two significant TripAdvisor lists in such a short time is very exciting for us,” said Scott Head, Vice President of Resort Operations. “We have worked hard to create a Waikoloa Beach Resort experience that works well for visitors, island residents, resort homeowners and vacation rental guests as well.  This kind of recognition shows that offering a variety of excellent choices in dining, shopping, golf, activities and accommodations are a formula that works, that people enjoy and are happy to visit again.”