Merrie Monarch Festival organizers in Hilo have announced online the judges and participating halau for this year’s competition.
Judges for the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival will be Cy Bridges, Maelia Loebenstein-Carter, Ainsley Halemanu, Nalani Kanakaʻole, Mae Kamamalu Klein, Piʻilani Lua and Kalena Silva.
A total of 29 groups — 20 wahine and nine kane — are set to compete at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium this year. The halau are from Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island along with California and Washington.
Returning this year are kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho, Chinky Mahoe and Mapuana de Silva. Last year’s overall winners, kumu Tracie and Keawe Lopes’ Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e of Kaneohe, will also return for this year’s competition.
This year’s Merrie Monarch Festival takes place from April 1 to April 7 with a hoolaula (celebration), invitational arts fair, parade and free midday performances, with the hula competition set for April 5 to April 7.
The Miss Aloha Hula solo competition takes place April 5, followed by the group kahiko and group auana competitions on April 6 and April 7. Ticket requests were accepted beginning Dec. 1 and are already sold out.