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Merrie Monarch Festival canceled over coronavirus concerns, organizers say

  • JAMM AQUINO / 2019
                                The women of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaʻala, of Kalaheo, Kauai, perform during the hula ‘auana competition in the 56th annual Merrie Monarch Festival. This year’s festival has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

    JAMM AQUINO / 2019

    The women of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaʻala, of Kalaheo, Kauai, perform during the hula ‘auana competition in the 56th annual Merrie Monarch Festival. This year’s festival has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

The 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This was such a hard decision to make,” Merrie Monarch Festivals President Luana Kawelu said in a news release today, “but we could not risk the health and wellbeing of our community, halau participants, vendors and the thousands of people who attend Merrie Monarch every year.”

Kawelu said organizers and sponsors believe that keeping people healthy and safe is the highest priority.

“We all need to take on this kuleana in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19,” she said.

Kawelu also added that airlines and hotels are sorting out the details over travel accommodations. She asked that everyone be patient.

“This is such an undertaking for all of them – their willingness and cooperation to work with us is a saving grace. We will update our own festival information when details become available,” she said.

Chris Tatum, president & CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, agreed with the decision to cancel this year’s festival.

“HTA has been a longtime supporter of the Merrie Monarch festival and looks forward to the return of this important cultural event in the future,” Tatum said.

All participating kumu hula and judges have been notified of the cancellation.

“I am one hundred percent in support of the cancellation of this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival,” said kumu hula Māpuana de Silva of Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima. “As a Kumu, I am responsible for the wellbeing of my haumana, their families, and especially of their kupuna. I believe that cancelling this year’s festival is necessary for the health of our lāhui and the perpetuation of our culture and its intergenerational values.”

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