(BIVN) – Ticket requests for Hilo’s popular Merrie Monarch Festival are usually accepted starting on December 1st, but not this year.
In a Saturday news release, organizers announced that they are working with event sponsors on options for holding and world-renowned hula competition in 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but added “it is clear that there will be no live audience.”
“Having to cancel last year’s event was a very hard decision but one we knew was necessary for the health and safety of our beloved dancers, kumu, judges and hula community overall,” said Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu. “Health and safety is still our number one concern and therefore, we have made the decision that if the festival is held, there will be no live audience,” she added.
No tickets will be available for sale for 2021. Many who have requested tickets over the last five decades know that ticket request forms are usually accepted starting in December.
“We need to get the word out to everyone who might be gearing up to send in requests,” said Kathy Kawelu, Luana’s daughter and kākoʻo. “We will not be accepting ticket requests for Merrie Monarch 2021. Please do not send ticket requests and payment as you might normally do.”
The Merrie Monarch organizing committee says it “is diligently working to develop a 2021 event that will allow for a celebration of hula that aligns with recommended COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.”
“So many have expressed how much they would like to see the festival be held, as would we,” Luana Kawelu said. “Nonetheless, while the perpetuation of hula and Hawaiian culture is our mission, our priority during these unprecedented times is keeping our ʻohana and community safe and healthy.”
The event honors Hawaiʻi’s last reigning King, David Kalākaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts. Kalākaua is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including hula. The annual event provides a major economic boost for the Hawaiʻi island economy.