Maui Connections

Last Saturday Maui got its weather back.

It was just coincidence, of course, but that didn’t stop folks at the Seabury Hall Craft Fair from feeling like the colorful annual event had triggered a day that dawned gorgeous and just kept getting better. After weeks of rain, chilly temperatures and enough gray skies to make the photovoltaic panels on my roof go into hibernation mode, Saturday felt like spring had arrived. Finally.

Blue skies and sunshine provided ideal lighting for the small village of booths brimming with jewelry, clothing, art, photos and other artisan-crafted creations that spring up on Seabury’s spectacular Olinda campus every year at this time.

When we launched the Maui Scene entertainment guide in The Maui News in 1992, I was told that the Seabury Hall Craft Fair would be on our cover once a year, the week before Mother’s Day. It was one of those events marked in permanent ink on the calendar, even before Kelly Coffman Thayer was handling the publicity. Even though I retired from that job years ago, sure enough, there it was on the Scene cover again last Thursday.

This was the craft fair’s 45th year, raising funds for scholarships. It takes an army of volunteers to pull it off, but the more friends I ran into — from Mike Yasak in the parking lot to Kyle Ellison in a booth selling alumni T-shirts — the more I was reminded of the gigantic role the Seabury community has had shaping island life and culture over that half century.

Although Warren Haines and I scanned the crowds of strangers, commiserating about the bygone days when you knew everyone at an event like this, there were still familiar faces wherever I looked. Like Aubrey Hord in the entertainment tent, listening to Jamie Gallo and her band giving us “Something to Talk About,” as keyboardist Ken Stover waited to go on next with Von Linne Express.

There was Dr. Nicole Apoliona, whom I usually see during visits to Kula Clinic, and Gen Iinuma, whom I usually see in the lane next to mine at Upcountry Pool.

I was introduced to Tara Tarpey and Marci Shapiro by the fabulous Marsha Kelly. Marsha and Sally Sefton are finishing up another semester teaching at Seabury, the kinds of caring role models who have helped guide generations of young Mauians through the emotional minefields of adolescence, teaching them far more than whatever was on the lesson plan that day.

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Pure survival was the lesson plan for a flying fish escaping the jaws of a hungry dolphin in Kahului Harbor recently. The Maui News’ award-winning photographer, my pal Matthew Thayer, was there to capture the moment.

Granted, there aren’t too many places where such an encounter would qualify as Page 1 news . . . but then again, there aren’t that many places on the planet where we’re privy to such encounters, either.

One more item for the Lucky We Live Hawaii list, right?

Matt had gone to the harbor to shoot the majestic Japanese tall ship Kaiwo Maru, a training barque that had crossed the Pacific under sail from Yokohama.

My guess is that the dolphin — one of a bottlenose pod that had “put on a show” before the ship’s arrival, according to the caption — was there to check out the sleek, four-masted vessel, too.

I had my own encounter with a bunch of dolphins a few months ago off Maui’s south side. I was working on a freelance story about Maui’s storied “Pink Cap” open-ocean swimmers when a pod of almost 100 spinners showed up, delighting my aquatic friends, including Doug Rice and Christine Andrews, Rich Landry, Don Bloom, Janet Mercer and Patti Hawkins.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of commercial enterprises to “Swim With Dolphins!” It seems like they add to tourist delusions that the dolphins — and all the rest of our magnificent environment — are just there to entertain them. But when you’re frolicking in deep water and dolphins show up to frolic, too, hey, it’s their call. It’s less a show than a happy reunion, with distant cousins in the family.

Watch for the story in the July/August issue of Maui No Ka Oi.

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It was around this time last year that we announced that the Maui-made movie “Kuleana” would premiere at the Maui Film Festival’s Celestial Cinema. Now, writer-director Brian Kohne is just back from “Kuleana’s” boffo premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, part of its triumphant theatrical rollout across Hawaii and now on the Mainland.

As for exciting announcements about this year’s Maui Film Festival, returning June 13-17 . . . ?

Stay tuned!

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and documentary scriptwriter/producer. Contact him at rickchatenever@gmail.com.

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