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Made in Maui fest attracts 10,000

Hot event at MACC shows off some of the county’s best

Shelby Ohashi-Sides checks out wooden chopstick pieces at the Hawaiian Airlines Made in Maui County Festival first-time vendor JOHI, a furniture and design studio based in Haliimaile. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photos

KAHULUI — Thousands of people attended the sunny, sixth annual county-made products show, the largest of its kind on the Valley Isle, held Friday and Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.

Weaving between busy booths on the bigger — and much hotter — shopping day of Saturday, it’s easy to see why the event is so popular. Not many other sites can showcase everything from Molokai bread, gourmet hot dogs smothered in lilikoi sauce, one-of-a-kind wrapping paper, lauhala jewelry, modern woodworking designs and just about anything creative county residents can come up with.

The Hawaiian Airlines Made in Maui County Festival this year featured more than 140 vendors from Maui, Molokai and Lanai offering hundreds of products.

Meanwhile, participants donned hats and sunglasses, finding rest spots in the shaded portions of the indoor-outdoor venue. Organizers estimated late Saturday that about 10,000 people came to the sixth annual fest.

Presented by the Maui Chamber of Commerce and supported by the county’s Office of Economic Development, the fest has an exclusive shopping afternoon Friday, along with raffle prizes, music and entertainment over the two-day event.

Shylene Paleka (left) and Ashton Greeleaf helped customers at the Kanemitsu Bakery booth, which added guava bread.

For attendees, Made in Maui is a one-stop shop for gifts galore. Lauren Loor of Kahului, who made a purchase at Kealopiko’s booth, said she likes the concept behind the Molokai vendor’s fashion and merchandise line.

“I like the stories and prints connected to nature and culture,” she said. “And it’s still modern and stylish.”

For vendors, the festival is a big boon for sales, networking and visibility.

Maxine Dias of Lako Kula Designs handmade jewelry, who’s been a Made in Maui vendor for all six years, said she makes more money at the local festival than times she’s attended the Made in Hawaii Festival and similar Oahu fairs.

“We’re almost sold out,” Dias said before noon Saturday.

Lauren Loor of Kahului purchases a Kealopiko piece from the Molokai vendor.

Holly Badr-El-Din of JOHI furniture and design studio in Haliimaile, a first-time vendor, said she enjoyed connecting with other businesses and hearing feedback from customers.

“It’s great getting to meet other people,” she said.

In all, there were 35 first-time vendors who showcased jewelry, furniture, handbags, baby clothes and gear, candy and sweets, succulents and beauty products, to name a few.

As a whole, the festival offers a springboard for local companies to take their business to the next level by being able to unveil new products, meet with prospective wholesalers and connect with new customers, according to an event news release.

For information on the Made in Maui County Festival, visit madeinmauicountyfestival.com/.

Maxine Dias of Lako Kula Designs said the jewelry company has been a vendor every year since the festival began six years ago.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@maui news.com.

Made in Maui County festivalgoers perused booths under the sweltering sun.