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This is Hula: Shop till you drop

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  • (Star-Advertiser photo by George F. Lee)
  • Aunty Paulette Kahalepuna (Photos by Lynn Cook)
  • Nita Pilago.
  • Kaleo Francisco

Isn’t it fun when the power of the press turns out to be true? Aunty Paulette Kahalepuna’s feather combs were featured in the Star Advertiser’s “5 Things We Love” on Monday. By 2 p.m. on the first day of the arts and crafts fair at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, half of her stock of feather-and-glass-bead-adorned combs were sold. Anyone who wants the regal look of feathers in their hair needs to get there early. The craft fair is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As to the craft fair, this was a very frugal visit. The time flew by. Two hours, lots of talk story and taking notes but no buying — at least not for me. For the artisans it seems to be a good start.

For Nita Pilago, designer of Wahine Toa, the day started with lines like the ones for the Hoi’ke night. Wahine Toa-clad ladies directed traffic to a line that stretched around the Butler Building. Buyers chatted with friends, or made new friends, as they waited to shop and try on one of the coveted dresses. Many just took a dress from the rack directly to the cashier.

“If it doesn’t fit, one of my hula sisters will buy it from me,” said one young woman who would probably look good in a brown paper bag. If a style is no more on the rack, fans can make it to Maui on Mother’s Day for Nita’s fashion show at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel or the MAMO fashion and trunk show in mid-May at the Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu.

Between the crafts fair buildings, the wearable “tickets wanted” billboard around the neck of Kathy Hughes begged the question, “any luck?” Kathy answered with a high-energy description of her billboard sign being the first, but others followed. “Copycats,” she says with disdain.

Kathy has been “advertising for tickets” since she was 20. She has Merrie Monarch T-shirts dating back to 1994. She does computer work at the UH-Hilo campus. And, over all the years, how many times has her sign resulted in tickets? Every time!

Books seem to draw the biggest crowd, plus they are just below the stage where Na Hoku Hanohano music award winners perform morning into afternoon. Kaleo Francisco was shopping the Hawaiian book titles at Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii. She looked familiar, as did the book in her hand.

Thousands of folks saw her lovely face crowned with gold in 2011. She was the Merrie Monarch queen of the Royal Court. “What was it like,” I asked. She answered that it was hours, actually days, of sitting very still, but a great experience.

“It seemed that the halau danced for us the way they did for the real monarchs. Many of the kumu looked our way and gave us the nod that they would have given real royalty. Portraying the royal persons was an honor.” The book she held and purchased, “Petroglyphs From Hawaii” published by Bess Press, is a journal guide to the ancient rock art of the Hawaiian islands. She promised to take the hikes across the lava fields and make her own discoveries.

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