Categorized | Entertainment

Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival (Feb. 6)


The 23rd annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is slated for Saturday, Feb. 6.

The annual community event showcases the blooming of Church Row Park’s historic cherry trees and the Japanese tradition of viewing them — hanami. This literally translates to hana, “flower” and mi, “look.”

Fronting Mamalahoa Highway 19, the park’s collection of trees typically paints the town pink after January’s winter cold snap.

The festival this year honors long-time contributing organizations Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club and the Waimea Arts Council; both community groups are celebrating landmark anniversaries in 2016.

These busy, productive organizations will each be recognized at the festival’s opening ceremony. Time is 9 a.m. on the entertainment stage at the rear of Parker Ranch Center.

The ceremony is expected to be attended by Gov. David Ige, Mayor Billy Kenoi, Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and Hawaii Council Representative Margaret Wille.

Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club

The Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club celebrates its 60th year in 2016. The club has a long and somewhat special relationship with the Cherry Blossom Festival as the club’s longtime sensei (teacher), the late Isami Ishihara, propagated the cherry trees planted in Church Row Park that eventually became the signature element for the annual festival. The club has participated in all festivals.

Bonyu Kai means “friendship club” and some of the club’s current members have been active members for over two decades and pass along what they learned from Ishihara throughout the years to newer members at meetings and events.

The practice of bonsai has a long tradition grounded both in artistic form and science.

Club President Bob Male said, “It is a continuous sharing and learning experience about the relationship and interaction we humans have with not only the plant kingdom, but all other elements of our environment (including other people).”

Club members have bonsai plants that range in age from a few years to more than 50. Many of the plants can be traced back to other bonsai masters, while the plants change every year due to their ongoing relationship with the environment and the perspective and care of their current trainer.

The Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club functions as a dynamic artistic, scientific, social experience that club members continue to embrace and practice.

Club membership is open to all; for info email

Waimea Arts Council

Marking its 40th year, the Waimea Arts Council (WAC) is one of the state’s oldest arts organizations and made up of North Hawaii residents from all walks of life who are supportive of the arts: educators, business owners and artists.

The all-volunteer council was founded in 1974 and designated a non-profit organization in 1978. WAC sponsors a variety of programs, exhibits and visual arts education, plus supports local artists with services.

The Firehouse Gallery is the most visual project of the Waimea Arts Council. Housed in South Kohala’s former fire engine garage and bunkhouse, the gallery is strategically located in the heart of Waimea at the Historic Corner where Mamalahoa Highway 19 becomes Highway 190 at Lindsey Road.

With exhibits changing monthly, The Firehouse Gallery serves as a venue for Big Island artists by providing educational and creative opportunities for sharing work. Artists donate a percentage of any sales to the organization. Staffed by artists and local volunteers, the gallery offers a variety of mixed media from watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings to glass, woodwork, photography and jewelry.

On of the original participants of the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, the gallery annually presents a cherry blossom-themed art display and invites attendees of all ages to get creative with chalk on the sidewalks winding through Waimea’s Historic Corner.

Regular hours of gallery operation are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and Sunday, plus 9 a.m-3 p.m. Saturday.



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.

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 Feb. 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.

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.

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 – Highway 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.

• Minukeole Park Hanam Ceremony: 11 a.m. with planting of cherry trees

Waimea Historic Corner – Highways 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 – Highway 19

Sake Tasting: Noon-3 p.m.

Ginger Farm – (old Anderson Homestead) MM 55 across from Puu Nani St. on Highway 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 Highway 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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