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Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival (Feb. 7)


The 22nd 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. 7 at various venues sprawling through town—look for pink banners identifying site locations.

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. A map of the shuttle route and festival venues is available in a detailed festival program available at each venue location Feb. 7.

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.

This year’s festival is dedicated to the Waimea Lions Club, which marks its 60th anniversary in 2015, and Kukuihaele resident Dorothy “Kuulei” Badua of Ka Hui Kapa O Waimea. The 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.

The 2015 event artwork is a “Spring Blossom” glass sculpture by Jay West of Kawaihae. The piece uses recycled glass and will be available for sale at the Waimea Arts Council’s Firehouse Gallery starting January 28. A photo of the art appears on the event’s official posters and program.

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.

• Entertainment: Hui Okinowan Kobudo Taiko at 10 a.m., Kazuyuki Sekiguchi & Friends at 11 a.m., Waimea/Waikoloa Ukulele Group at 11:30 a.m. and Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association at noon.

• Cherry Pie & Dessert Cook-off: Senior clubs from Waimea, Waikoloa and North Kohala vie in cherry dessert competition with judging at noon.

• 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) and origami.

• 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, teriyaki chicken bowl, nishime bento, manju, andagi and prune mui.

• Cooking Demos at Kamuela Hongwanji: Kona-Kohala chefs offer cooking demonstrations with free samples.

Parker Ranch Center- Hwy. 19

• Festival Entertainment Stage: In the back parking lot. Opening 9 a.m. ceremonies kick off continuous entertainment until 3 p.m.: Warabe Uta-Japanese children folk songs, Bon Odori Taiko accompanied by Kona Taiko, Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association, Kumu Hula Michael Pang’s Hula Halau Ka Noeau, Michael Strand Band, Darlene Ahuna, Island Swing Orchestra 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 Lobby – Lindsey Road/Parker Ranch Center

Cultural Demos/Performing Arts: From 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy ritual Japanese tea ceremony led by Emi Wakayama; 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. On display is art by Susumu Sakaguchi of Volcano and Ikebana Shinka Ikenobo by Chikako Powers of Waimea. Dance and acting classes, origami, pavement chalks, magic show 1 p.m. and The Voyager Exhibit with an updated activity map.

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

• Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea’s Hawaiian and Americana Quilt Show: Extensive quilt display and craft sale, members offer a “learn how” area and pattern tracing.

• Kamaaina Motors Car Show: New display of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Nissan models at Hamakua side of parking lot.

Waimea Historic Corner-Hwys. 19/190 intersection

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

Waimea Preservation Assoc. Building: Waimea Outdoor Circle offers fresh cherries and displays native Hawaiian plants from the Waimea Nature Park.

Parker School-Lindsey Road

Waimea Town Market/Performing Arts: Market with fresh produce, food and artisan booths open 8 a.m.-noon with performances by Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association at 9 a.m. and Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala-Waimea at 10 and 11 a.m.

Parker Ranch Historic Homes-Hwy. 190

Historic Exhibit: On display, “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading” chronicles the strong relationship between Hawaii’s royal family and the people of Kalaupapa during the time when victims of Hansen’s Disease were sent to the isolated peninsula.

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 for sale 7 a.m.-noon.

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, lunch truck.

The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is produced by the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation’s Culture and Education Section.

For further information, call 961-8706.

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