Waimea on the Big Island is gearing up for the 25th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival. Each year the festivities are held on the first Saturday in February, celebrating springtime as well as the rich music, arts, and culture that makes Hawai‘i Island so special.
Beautiful pink blooms adorn the cherry trees along Church Row in downtown Waimea, drawing crowds to the celebration each year. The aptly named street is home to Christian churches, Buddhist temple, and Mormon church representing the religious history of the island as well as the variety of cultural influences.
Celebrations begin Saturday, Feb. 3 at 9 am continuing on until 3 pm. Waimea will feature activities and entertainment throughout town, including chef demonstrations. All day you’ll find fun Japanese and multi-cultural performances, hands-on bonsai and origami demonstrations, a traditional tea ceremony, craft fairs and quilt show, mochi pounding, and food booths.
This year while enjoying the blooms, visitors can experience the culinary expertise of seven different notable island chefs. Held at the Kamuela Hongwanji from 9am to 1 pm, chefs from Sansei Seafood, Sushi Shiono at Mauna Lani Resort, Hāmākua Macadamia Nut Company in Kawaihae, and Mai Grille at Waikoloa Kings’ Golf Course will demonstrate their skills, along with providing samples for the audience.
Food Demonstrations at Kamuela Hongwanji (MC: Margo)
9 a.m. – Mai Grille, Waikoloa Beach Golf Course, featuring Owner/Executive Chef Allen Hess
9:45 a.m. – Shiono at Mauna Lani Resort
10:30 a.m. – Oshima Island Dancers (Oshima is a Sister-City to Hilo.)
11 a.m. – “Team Majestic,” Lion Dancers start at Hongwanji
11:15 a.m. – Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Queens’ MarketPlace, Featuring Executive Chef Shane Torres
Noon – Hāmākua Macadamia Nut Company, Kawaihae, Featuring Owner/Chef Steven Arakaki- Desserts Hawaii and Duane Puhi
Entertainment at Church Row Park: (MC: G. Cruz of KWXX)
9:45 a.m. – “Amasuwa no mai” Japanese Dance group (Sensei Mana Yuimi Koike) with special guest appearance by Miyuki Ikesue playing the Lyra, harp
10:15 a.m. – KOTO: Music of the Koto, Japanese stringed instrument, by Darin Miyashiro
10:30 a.m. – Taiko drumming by Ryukyukoku Daiko, Okinawan style
11:15 a.m. – “Team Majestic,” Lion Dancers start at Hongwanji
11:30 a.m. – Taiko drumming by Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko
12:30 to 1 p.m. – Combined performance by Taiko drumming by Ryukyukoku Daiko and Hui Okinawas Kobudo Taiko
For more information, call (808) 961-8706. Demonstrations and Lineup list provided by Big Island Now.
Photo Credit: Big Island Now