Categorized | Entertainment, Featured

19th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

(Photo courtesy of Bob Fewell)


The 19th annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has a full lineup of multi-cultural performing arts, hands-on demonstrations, more than 100 crafters, a new quilt show and food booths 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at various venues sprawling through town — look for pink banners identifying site locations.

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 February.

This year’s community festival is part of the nationwide 100-year anniversary that marks the 1912 planting of cherry trees along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. The Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial celebration features the planting of cherry trees across the nation as a continued symbol of friendship between the two countries.

Using seeds presented from the Embassy of Japan that are especially suited to Hawaii’s climate, seedlings were cultivated last fall for planting at the festival.

One seedling, Cerasus jamasakura Cv. Sendaiya, will be ceremoniously planted 10:30 a.m. in Church Row Park by Mayor Billy Kenoi; Yoshihiko Kamo, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu; and Dr. Tetsuo Koyama, director of the Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden,

This year’s festival also commemorates three paniolo: Charles T. Kimura, Charles T. Onaka and Jamie Dowsett. The Big Isle residents will be recognized by Kenoi during opening festivities on the entertainment stage behind Parker Ranch Center.

The official festival program will be included just prior to the event in the North Hawaii News and also distributed at festival venues. It includes a map with activity locations and details on the many presenting organizations.

Festival parking is available at Parker Ranch Center and the soccer field across Church Row Park. A free shuttle offers transportation among festival venues with stops at Parker Ranch Historic Homes on Hwy. 190, Parker Ranch Center’s back parking lot and Church Row Park. 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. The Lions will also collect used eyeglasses, offer vision screening and sell pancake breakfast tickets

* 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

* Cooking Demos at Kamuela Hongwanji: Big Isle chefs offer cooking demonstrations with free samples

* Japanese Cultural Demos/Entertainment at Kamuela Hongwanji: Enjoy taiko drumming and learn the time-honored art of origami by Kikuko Kibe and furoshiki (gift wrapping cloth)

* Asian Collectibles/Food Sales at Kamuela Hongwanji: Church organizations sell Asian-themed collectibles, cherry blossom note cards, lanterns made from recycled beverage cans, cherry tree seedlings and cherry blossoms in mugs, temple cookbooks. Asian foods: Inari sushi, teriyaki chicken bowl, nishime, manju, andagi and prune mui

* Cherry Tree Planting: Seedling planted by dignitaries as part of the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial, 10:30 a.m., Hamakua end of park

* Martial Arts Demonstrations throughout the day

* Food Sales at Imiola Church: Saimin, cherry ice cream and local delicacies

Parker Ranch Center- Hwy. 19

* Festival Entertainment Stage: In the back parking lot. Opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. kick off continuous entertainment until 3 p.m.: Bon Odori Taiko, bon dance, Japanese Preschool presentation, Kumu Hula Michael Pang’s Hula Halau Ka Noeau, Lono Kanakaole Trio, Kenny Endo’s Taiko, Darlene Ahuna, Kuhao Case and Tai Shoji Taiko.

* Craft Fair: More than 100 crafters inside Center and in the back parking lot, cherry tree seedlings for sale in 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.; free samples

* Mana Christian Ohana Church – (Formerly Kahilu Town Hall)

Behind Parker Ranch Center

* Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea’s Festival of Quilts: Show by six clubs: Sew N Sews of Waikoloa, Anuenue Quilters of North Hawaii, Mauna Kea Quilters, Laulima O Hamakua, Sew Fun After School and the host Ka Hui Kapa Apana. Show honors the late Nancy Donigan and displays the commemorative Aloha Airlines Quilt and sells crafts. Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

* Car Show: Hamakua side of parking lot

Waimea Historic Corner-Hwys. 19/190 intersection

* Firehouse Gallery Art Demos/Exhibition: Waimea Arts Council (WAC) presents a members’ invitational show with a cherry blossom theme. WAC members demonstrate paper, painting and jewelry making, plus sidewalk chalk drawings for all ages, while Waimea Community Theatre presents scenes from the upcoming production, “The Hollow.” Kohala Taco & Burger will sell tacos as a fundraiser for the arts organization.

Parker School-Hwy. 19

* Waimea Town Market/Performing Arts: Farmers Market open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. with calligraphy instruction, on-site stone oven featured fresh-baked bread, artisan products sale and a performance by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii-Kohala at 10 and 11 a.m., plus Okinawan dance.

Parker Ranch Historic Homes-Hwy. 190

* Cultural Demos/Performing Arts/Food: Enjoy ritual Japanese tea ceremony led by Emi Wakayama, the Sakura Ensemble on shakuhachi (bamboo flute) clarinet and piano; plus a display of oriental art and kimonos. Portuguese bean soup, smoked meat bowls and malasadas will be served.

Paniolo Heritage Center at Historic Pukalani Stables-End of Pukalani St. (turn south off Hwy. 19 at Ace Hardware)

* Paniolo Kepani-Hawaii’s Japanese Cowboys: Cowboy breakfast featuring smoked meat omelets and authentic paniolo pancakes 8-10 a.m. for $12 donation, lunch offerings later; talk story sessions by Paniolo Preservation Society featuring Japanese and Hawaiian cultural practices, Japanese cowboy exhibit including master saddlemaker Alvin Kawamoto, display of historic ranching artifacts and photos, and learn to play Japanese card game, Hanafuda, with Milton Yamasaki.

Topstitch-Holomua Center, Kamamalu St.

* Quilt Exhibit: by the Mauna Kea Quilters Guild and Topstich Fabric & Needlecraft. Make It and Take It free activity.

Kamuela Liquors-Hwy. 19

* Sake Tasting: Noon-3 p.m.

Kuhio Hale-Hwy. 19

* Farmer’s Market: More than 20 members of the Hawaiian Homestead Market offer a variety of products 7 a.m.-noon

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

* Japanese Home Tour/Tea Tasting/Art Fun: Self-guided tour through traditional Japanese style home; Parker School students serve cherry tea and show keiki how to make a cherry blossom hanging scroll.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Fewell)


“Church Row” is already blushing pink as Waimea gets ready for the Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, from one end of town to the other. Not to be missed, some of the island’s most popular chefs prepare to wow tasters with cooking demonstrations and food samplings at Kamuela Hongwanji Mission, on Saturday, February 4 from 9:15 1:45 p.m.

“We’ve expanded our culinary demonstrations this year,” said chef organizer Margo Mau-Bunnell. “Everyone loves to watch the chefs at work and sample their cuisine. And for the 19th year of Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, our participants asked the chefs to go ahead and prepare a variety of different dishes, not necessarily limited to Japanese or Asian cuisine. We’ll have delicious tastings that highlight their restaurants’ specialties.”

Featured chefs will represent the following exceptional restaurants:

* 9:15–9:45 a.m. Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Queens’ MarketPlace -Waikoloa Beach Resort. Award-winning cuisine from one of the Kohala Coast’s most popular restaurants, featuring Chef Shane Torres.

* 10–10:45 a.m. Waikoloa Grill ‘n Bar (Formerly known as Buzz’s Sandtrap), Waikoloa Beach Resort. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy delicious dining on the Beach Course, featuring Chef Helgi Olafson.

* 11–11:45 a.m. Boat Landing Cantina, Hilton Waikoloa Village,Waikoloa Beach Resort. Where “Hola Meets Aloha” in Mexico’s Pacific cuisine with a fresh island flair, featuring Executive Chef Charles Charbonneau.

* 12-12:45 p.m. Sansei Steak, Seafood & Sushi Bar, Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort. Award-winning cuisine from one of the Kohala Coast’s most popular restaurants, featuring Chef Eric Rouelle.

* 1-1:45 p.m. Charley’s Thai Cuisine, Queens’MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort. Exotic tastes with just the right spice for a celebration, featuring Chef Mario Rillon.

The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is a full day of entertainment, food demonstrations, art and crafts, cultural and historic activities throughout the town.

The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is produced by the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Department. 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.

For further information, contact

To find out more about the chef demonstrations and food tastings, call 345-9364.

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