KUKUIHAELE, Hawaii – The first annual Waipi‘o Kalo Festival was held at Koa‘ekea near the Valley Lookout on Saturday, June 4.
The poi party was presented by the grassroots nonprofit, Hā Ola O Waipi‘o Valley. The festival was free to the public and served as a tribute to kalo, also known as taro. The event also honored Waipi’o, and the kupuna and others who live, work, and find inspiration there.
The Kalo Festival was designed to be educational as well as entertaining, organizers say. “Central to Hawaiian culture, kalo is considered the “older brother” of all Hawaiians,” organizers wrote ahead of the event. “Legend says that a child named Hāloa was born to deities Wakea and Ho‘ohōkūkalani. Hāloa died at birth and was buried in the garden, where soon shoots of kalo plants began to grow. Their next child was named Hāloa in his honor, and to forever acknowledge the familial tie between people and nature.”
Big Island Video News spoke to well known valley farmer Jim Cain about the event. While we were there we caught the performance of Rubbah Slippah Productions and Ryan Hiraoka, recorded the hustling vendors, and captured the hands-on ku‘i kalo, which gave festival-goers a feel for the art of poi pounding.
The Kalo Festival was sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the County of Hawai‘i and others. Friends of the Future and Pōhāhā I Ka Lani both served as the fiscal sponsors for the project.