Food, fun pounding at East Maui Taro Festival

Hawaiian “kalo,” or “taro,” will be the focus of the 26th annual festival taking root at Hana Ball Park on Saturday. Photo courtesy Judy Kinser

The 26th annual East Maui Taro Festival will be pounding with food, fun, live music and Hawaiian culture from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Hana Ball Park. Admission is free to this family-friendly event popular with locals and visitors alike.

The event focuses on “kalo,” or “taro,” as a staple food of the Hawaiian diet, as well as being revered as the symbolic “elder brother” of all Native Hawaiians, according to legend.

“The festival features all day hula and music, local arts and crafts, a farmers market with all types of taro for sale –from huli (shoots) to potted plants to kulolo (dessert) and fresh poi,” says Event Coordinator Judy Kinser. “John Cruz is going to play. So is Braddah Francis, an old-time favorite, and Ola Hou, Kuaola, CJ, Leokane and Boise. We do have founder Auntie Ku’ulei’s granddaughter Ku’ulei Haina performing. She’s a certified kumu hula. And we’ll have Poerava Ori Nui Tahitian dancing.”

The cultural roots go even deeper.

“We’ll have a nonprofit info tent with hands-on activities such as poi pounding, lauhala weaving, kapa/tapa cloth making, and 20 food booths, each with a main taro dish or side,” Kinser continues. “The goal of the festival is to educate people about the value and significance of kalo/taro and its relationship to the Hawaiian culture.”

There will be a taro pancake breakfast at Helene Hall on Sunday cooked by Barefoot Bakery & Cafe’s Barry Villiarimo. The prices vary because sometimes he will add loco moco and taro hash browns and such to the menu. The East Maui Taro Festival is supported in part by grants from the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

For more details, visit www.tarofestival.org.


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