21st Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival Information

The 21st annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has a full lineup of free multi-cultural performing arts and hands-on demonstrations, plus nearly 150 crafters and food booths 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at various venues sprawling through town—look for pink banners identifying site locations.

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” by artist Rani Denise Ulrich

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” and artist Rani Denise Ulrich of Keauhou

Festival parking is available at Parker Ranch Center, the soccer field across Church Row Park and Parker School. Three festival shuttles offer free transportation among venues. A map of the shuttle route and festival venues is available at each venue location and distributed January 30 in the North Hawaii News.

This year’s festival art showcases the impressionistic art of Keauhou-Kona resident Rani Denise Ulrich. The 11X17-inch event poster features Ulrich’s impressionistic painting, “Love These Cherry Blossoms!” The $10 posters, along with the original 18 X 24 painting, can be purchased at the Firehouse Gallery, 808-887-1052. Posters go on sale January 29.

Organized by members of the upcountry community and the county’s department of parks and recreation, the festival marks the blooming of the historic cherry trees at Church Row Park and celebrates the age-old Japanese tradition of hanami, which translates to “cherry blossom viewing party.” After a seasonal winter chill, the trees typically are blooming in February.

This year’s festival is dedicated to Waimea residents Emiko Wakayama and Fumi Bonk.  The women, who both have Japanese heritage, will be recognized at the festival’s opening ceremony. Time is 9 a.m. on the main entertainment stage at the rear of Parker Ranch Center.

A quick rundown of festival activities at various locations follows (times are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. unless specified otherwise).

Church Row Park

  • Historical Cherry Tree Display: Waimea Lions’ Club offers a pictorial history of the cherry trees and serves as the festival’s official Lost and Found station. The Lions will also collect used eyeglasses.
  • Entertainment: aikido demonstrations throughout the day, Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association at 11 a.m.
  • Cherry Pie & Dessert Cook-off: Senior clubs from Waimea, Waikoloa and North Kohala vie in cherry dessert competition with judging at noon.
  • Bonsai: The Waimea Bonyu Kai Bonsai Club offers a display and sale of bonsai, ongoing demonstrations and a clinic to discuss and work on the art of bonsai.
  • Japanese Furoshiki at Kamuela Hongwanji: Learn the time-honored art of gift wrapping.
  • Asian Collectibles/Food Sales at Kamuela Hongwanji: Church organizations sell Asian-themed collectibles, lanterns made from recycled beverage cans, cherry tree seedlings and cherry blossoms in mugs; plus Asian foods: Inari sushi, teriyaki chicken bowl, spam musubi, nishime bento, manju, andagi and prune mui.
  • Cooking Demos at Kamuela Hongwanji: Big Isle chefs offer cooking demonstrations with free samples.

Parker Ranch Center- Hwy. 19

  • Festival Entertainment Stage: In the back parking lot. Opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. kick off continuous entertainment until 3 p.m.: Bon Odori Taiko, Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association, Kumu Hula Michael Pang’s Hula Halau Ka Noeau, Michael Strand Band, Darlene Ahuna, Honokaa Jazz Band, Tai Shoji Taiko.
  • Craft Fair: Nearly 150 crafters inside Center and in the back parking lot.
  • Mochi Tsuki Pounding: Help pound mochi using 500 pounds of rice with the Kona Hongwanji Mission outside the Fireside Food Court starting 10 a.m.; samples.

Kahilu Theatre Lobby- Lindsey Road/Parker Ranch Center

  • Cultural Demos/Performing Arts: Enjoy ritual Japanese tea ceremony led by Emi Wakayama; art display of woodblock prints, ikebana, origami and feather leis; hanafuda card playing; and ongoing Voyager Exhibit: Hokulea World Wide Voyage by Na Kalai Waa. Entertainment: Japanese and international music by musicians from Japan and the islands.

Mana Christian Ohana Church – (Former Kahilu Town Hall) Behind Parker Ranch Center

  • Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea’s Hawaiian and Americana Quilt Show: Extensive quilt display and sale, members offer a “learn how” area and pattern tracing.
  • Kamaaina Motors Car Show: Hamakua side of parking lot.

Waimea Historic Corner-Hwys. 19/190 intersection

  • Firehouse Gallery Art Demos/Exhibition: Waimea Arts Council presents art with a cherry blossom theme, plus event poster sales for $10. Artists demonstrate paper making, painting, plus sidewalk chalk drawings for all ages. Photographers offer digital photo art Q&A session. Food by Kohala Taco & Burger, plus tropical-flavored popsicles.

Parker School-Lindsey Road

  • Waimea Town Market/Performing Arts: Market with fresh produce, food and artisan booths open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. with performances by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii-Kohala and Hawaii Chinese Lion Dance Association 10 a.m.-noon.

Kamuela Liquors-Hwy. 19

  • Sake Tasting: Noon-3 p.m.

Kuhio Hale-Hwy. 19

  • Farmer’s Market: More than 20 members of the Hawaiian Homestead Market offer a variety of products for sale 7 a.m.-noon.

Ginger Farm- (old Anderson Homestead) MM 55 across from Puu Nani St. on Hwy. 19

  • Japanese Home Tour/Tea Tasting/Keiki Craft: Self-guided tour through traditional Japanese style home and garden with Japanese walking bridge. Island keiki serve cherry tea and show keiki how to make a cherry blossom-hanging scroll.

The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is produced by the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation’s Culture and Education Section. Overseen by the park’s culture education administrator, Roxcie Waltjen, the festival is a community-wide effort by a dedicated team of volunteers, 961-8706.

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