Gov. Neil Abercrombie is scheduled to join the celebration of Waimea’s Japanese heritage by planting flowering cherry trees in honor of exceptional community contributors during the 21st Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.
The community festival showcases the blooming of Waimea’s historic 60-year-old cherry trees, which are primarily located near town center at Church Row Park but can also be seen in growing numbers throughout the upcountry ranching community. The festival combines the Japanese tradition of viewing these beautiful trees ablaze with pink blossoms – called hanami – with dozens of events, exhibits and interactive presentations that celebrate the community’s Japanese traditions and connections.
Gov. Abercrombie will be a part of the festival’s opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. at Parker Ranch Center, joined by Mayor Billy Kenoi in saluting this year’s festival honorees, Waimea residents Emiko Wakayama and Fumi Bonk.
Then, at 10:30 a.m., the Governor will plant a young flowering cherry tree on the front lawn of Historic Spencer House in honor of lifelong Waimea resident, retired Judge and former Lt. Gov. Nelson Doi.
At 11:15 a.m., the Governor will plant three more flowering cherry trees on the front lawn of Waimea’s Department of Agriculture building at the entry to the Lalamilo Farmlots. The trees will honor the three generations of Japanese families that turned Lalamilo’s arid, rocky lands into the highly productive leafy greens and other fresh produce “food basket” of the state.
The community is invited to join the tree plantings, which are intended to also contribute to the original vision of Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival founders who wanted to encourage the addition of more of the flowering trees along the main roadways through this cool upcountry community.
The tree plantings are two of dozens of activities and events at venues throughout Waimea on festival day. Other festivities include Japanese and multi-cultural performances and exhibits of art and traditional dolls, hands-on demonstrations of bonsai, origami and mochi pounding, presentations of the exquisite traditional tea ceremony, plus sake tasting and the offering of a wide array of popular Japanese foods. Look for pink banners identifying event locations sprawling from the Parker Ranch Center to the Hawaiian Homestead Farmer’s Market on Hwy. 19.
The annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is sponsored by many Waimea community groups, churches, temples, clubs and businesses in partnership with the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation Arts and Culture Division.