Made in Hawaii Festival brings island wares to the island aware
Food products, gifts, apparel and arts and crafts will be showcased at the annual Made in Hawaii Festival, which celebrates its 25th year of supporting local businesses.
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Celebrate local creativity and entrepreneurship at Made in Hawaii Festival, which comes to the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena for its 25th year this weekend.
The festival features hundreds of products, all with a local connection, whether produced, processed or grown. The festival is a boon to Hawaii’s small businesses, and especially craft businesses, such as island-themed specialty foods, jewelry and clothing, and household goods. Though the holidays are months away, it’s the perfect opportunity to do some early gift shopping, particularly for items that need to be sent overseas.
Nearly 400 vendors will be displaying their products, with items come from all the major islands, so you can save a neighbor island trip this year but still be ensured of seeing specialties from every island. Nearly 50 of the vendors will be first-timers or returning after a long absence.
Last year, the festival attracted an estimated 60,000 visitors, so be prepared to meander and do some comparison shopping. Be forewarned also that “The Phantom of the Opera” is showing at Blaisdell Concert Hall, so parking may be at a premium.
Here’s but just a few highlights:
>> In this age of waste of overconsumption, upcycling has become a theme for many vendors, such as Upcycle Hawaii from Hawaii island. The company takes debris like bits of old bicycle inner tubes, bits of plastic bags, aluminum pop-can tabs and old rope and repurposes them into small bags, purses and jewelry.
>> Kimono Megumi uses a similar idea on an upscale basis. The company started out using vintage kimono to create beautiful cloth handbags and purses; now, it re-utilizes leather products such as boots and belts to create hardier products.
>> It’s back-to-school time, so if you’re still looking for something unique, check out Mamanu kids. While much of its clothing is for toddlers and preschoolers, the Oahu-based company is also producing backpacks made out of the colorful cotton prints, suitable for gradeschoolers.
>> Since this is a Made in Hawaii Festival, what could be more Hawaiian than poi? A newcomer to the festival this year is the Aloha Aina Poi Company. Owned and operated by farmers, the company is working to establish a traditional kalo farming complex in Kauai’s Makaweli Valley and has worked with students to, among other things, dredge out – by hand – the Waimea River, where silt has been collecting because of illegal diversions of water.
>> Hawaii island coffee has been around for a long time now, but Kenai Kona Koffee is putting a new twist on it by using it in meat rubs. The company offers three flavors: Crabby Abby’s, described as “sweet with a hit of spicy hot”; Cooper’s Cajun, for barbecue; and Henry’s Ohana.
COOKING DEMOS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Food is always a focus at the festival, both served hot and ready for onsite consumption as well as packaged for later use. So it only seems appropriate that the festival will have ongoing cooking demonstrations by top local chefs.
>> Friday’s program includes Chef Anthony Smiley of the Koko Head Cafe at 2 p.m.; Executive Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill and Bar at 4 p.m. and Executive Sous Chef Lenny Ushidate of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel at 6 p.m.
>> Saturday at noon, Shawn “Doc” Boyd and Morris Matsushima, Som’ Good Seasonings will take the stage, followed by Calvin Iwashita of Rocket Scientist Chili at 2 p.m., then Executive Chef Jason Ichiki of Roy’s Restaurant Waikiki at 4 p.m. Sunday will feature Chefs Adela and Millie from Adela’s Country Eatery at noon and Chef Sam Choy and John Veneri from Sam Choy’s in the Kitchen at 2 p.m.
A booklet of the dishes they will be preparing at the festival is available at madeinhawaiifestival.com
When you’re not shopping, enjoy some top-flight entertainment. From 11 a.m. onward each day, a full slate of all-star musicians perform every day in the Pikake Room.
>> Friday’s program features Melveen Leed, Jay Larrin, Jerry Santos, Weldon Kekauoha, Kawika Kahiapo and Maunalua.
>> Saturday will bring Kupaoa, Bobby Moderow, Jr. and Ke ‘Olu, followed by a talent contest at 4:30 p.m., with the winner earning a monthlong gig at the Kani Ka Pila Grille at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort.
>> Sunday’s entertainment opens with comic Frank DeLima, with Hoku Zuttermeister and Danny Couch following up after lunch.
25TH ANNUAL MADE IN HAWAII FESTIVAL
>> Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena
>> When: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
>> Cost: $7; children 6 and under free
>> Info: madeinhawaiifestival.com