Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hawaiian Cultural Festival

I don't know how it is on the other islands, but Big Island hosts a number of cultural festivals throughout the year. Our Volcanoes National Park hosts one each year, alternating the venue between the two park divisions. Lucky for me, this year it was held at the Kahuku Ranch site, just practically next door to the homestead. Couldn't be more convenient! 
(Photo- hale ho'okipa could be translated literally as hospitality house. Most big events I've attended host a hospitality tent or room, so this booth fit that niche. I found it to be quite interesting when I finally took the time to explore the table and ask questions.)

Since I live in Hawaii, I figure I really should become familiar with the Hawaiian culture to some degree. I'm not out to become an expert, but I find the culture to be very informative as it pertains to my own adventure. Hawaiians developed successful ways to grow food here and worked with the local resources to adequately survive. I have been learning a lot studying their techniques. I use Hawaiian techniques for growing many crops and am developing a barter system that is ahupua'a-like. I trade with hunters that bring meat down off the mountain, trade for foods produced within my immediate locale, trade for fish. 

The cultural festivals here vary, depending upon who is hosting them. But they all are interesting. The one held this past weekend has many on-hands educational booths where people could not only get information, but they could sit down and try their hand at various Hawaiian activities. And lots of people really did exactly that, both tourists and residents alike. Pretty cool. A lot of fun. 

I stopped at numerous booths and found them really great in one way or another. Hawaiian games featured types of Hawaiian style bowling and tug of war.

(Hawaiian style bowling balls.)

 The nose flute booth was way cool, where people could make their very own flute and learn how to play it.
 Several kids were in the ukulele tent trying out the ukes. 

The kapa cloth booth was quite informative, with several specimens of modern made cloth.
 The knowledge to make this traditional Hawaiian bark cloth had been lost. Lost! Egads. But through the passion and dedication of one woman (I've forgotten her name), the technique was laboriously rediscovered, now many people practice kapa making and offer demonstrations and information at the cultural festivals. This particular booth has many different kapa beaters (wooden clubs) and lots of design printing sticks. Yeah, I don't know the Hawaiian term for them, but they are cool anyway. It's the designs that attract my eye, geometrics that are very pretty printed onto the cloth. 
I hope to never have to rely upon kapa as my only source of cloth, but I'm glad that the knowledge has been retained. 

Geometric designs are common to early quilting here, though nowadays the quilts have become artistic creations including the play of color upon a theme, or outright picture designs. 

Quilting is extremely popular here with Ka'u residents. Both men and women create some fabulous quilts. Don't need quilts in Hawaii? Are you kidding? They make nice wall hangings, bedspreads, and yes, there are plenty of homes where they are used to keep the occupants warm at night. 

The bamboo stamp tent turned out to be most popular with little children. 
Little tykes created their own stamping sticks then had the opportunity to learn how they worked. 
Even adults it into the fun, experimenting with designs and color. 

Another booth featured lauhala weaving that involves processing leaves from a particular tree, the hala, then weaving them into hats, mats, bracelets and a multitude of other items. Notice that the mats people are sitting on are lauhala mats? Lauhala weaving is a good craft to learn for anyone wanting to exercise their artistic heart or be self reliant on a homestead. One could create all sorts of things. 
The hats on display were awesome and our locale lauhala master was there to help answer questions. She's a real gem of a lady.
Real handcrafted lauhala hats are quite popular. The hats, like the ones pictured here, are real works of art and their price reflects that. Be prepared to shell out big bucks if you want one. I could never bring myself to buy one, only to see one of my dogs get a hold of it someday. Or have the cat sharpen its claws on it. Yikes! I'd have to store it in a glass display cabinet. But I do indeed love these hats. For me, I'll have to either learn to make my own someday or else buy one from a person learning how to weave them. 
I'd be happy with just a plain lauhala hat. But the master weavers are capable of putting all sorts of designs not their weaving, making the hats absolutely eyecatching. Note the feather hatbands on these hats. Kilohana, our local feather crafter, makes them. 
You talk about tedious work! He hand trims, shapes, then sews each feather in place one at a time. That's an art form unto itself. 

 Another weaving booth featured coconut fronds. People were busily making their own bowls and hats and looked like they were being pretty successful with their attempts. 
I have a number of frond woven items about the house. I've yet to create any myself, but I support our local craftspeople. Someday I'll try my hand at this. 

The lei booths were really popular. People were making not just neck leis but wrist and hair adornments too. 
The leis that were on display were beautiful. There were many different kinds and styles. 

Lei making is not just stringing flowers into a giant necklace. Techniques varying.....stringing, plaiting, twisting. Materials vary.....all sorts of local materials including stems, leaves, flowers, and shells. 

Feathers were used in old Hawaiian culture for a number of things. And modern Hawaiian uses include leis, hat bands, mini-kahili for decoration. The feather craft tent was especially popular with the people at the festival this year. 

Hawaiian traditional medicines are making a comeback. Hawaii in general embraces alternative medical treating far more than what I saw on the mainland. Thus Hawaiian medicine is actively practiced here. I've only attended two lectures about Hawaiian medicinals, and I found them to be intriguing. 

Both the gardening, taro, and the food booths saw lots of activity. I, for one, was glad to see both booths featuring Hawaiian foods. It gave me the opportunity to glean a few more tidbits of knowledge to apply to my homestead. And not just knowledge, but plants too. At the gardening booth I picked up some sugar cane, olena (turmeric), and pia. I've never grown pia before but I wanted to give it a try.
At the taro (kalo) tent I really lucked out bigtime. I came away with a half dozen mana ulu hulis. This is a variety I really want to grow but has been difficult to locate. Bingo! Got it!

 Over at the food booth they were handing out samples of several Hawaiian oriented foods for people to try. Sugar cane. Cooked taro and sweet potato. Poke, and more. 

Many festival goers discovered the live entertainment going on at the prettily decorated stage. Hawaiian style music and hula. Always popular here. Yes, us local folk enjoy this. It's not just put on the entertain the tourists. Lots of people around here play ukulele, slack key guitar, and dance hula. If tourists want to watch, fine. But we do these things for ourselves. 

Other activities included info lectures by the park rangers and guided walks & hikes in the park. This year I didn't partake in the hikes because I had other plans for the afternoon. But I do plan to bring hubby back so that we can explore the new trails. 

There were some vendors also set up this year. The requirement was that they had to offer Hawaiian cultural oriented items, so I saw book vendors, medicinals, t-shirts, and of course....poi! What would be a Hawaiian gathering without poi! 

At past festivals I picked up information about plenty of other Hawaiian techniques......plant uses other than food and medicinal, dyeing, sandal making, ti uses, poi pounding, house construction, canoe making, fishing, and more. 

The Kahuku Ranch division of the park is, in my opinion, an great location for a cultural fair. I just wish one could be held here every year. 

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