WAIKAPU - On Saturday, April 5, the annual Maui County Agricultural Festival (MCAF) will once again celebrate agriculture's vital role in the economy, environment and lifestyle of Maui.
Now in its seventh year, Maui's prime event to raise awareness about local agriculture on Maui invites residents and visitors to talk story with the people who grow our food and their industry allies, discover what agriculture means to our communities and 'aina, taste fresh flavors and have fun.
Taking place at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu, the festival will be larger than ever, with crowds expected to exceed 8,000 people.
Akina Aloha Tours this year will operate a free shuttle between Baldwin High School and Maui Tropical Plantation from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Festival admission will be just $3 for adults; attendees 21 and under are free.
The festival is happy to welcome star chefs from CHARCUT Roast House in Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Chefs John Jackson, Connie DeSousa, Jessica Pelland and Pierre Lamielle, who are on Maui for a chef exchange. They will partner with Sheldon Simeon, Migrant/Mala Wailea; Eric Faivre, Grand Wailea; Tylun Pang, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; and Ryan Luckey, Leilani?s on the Beach, for a chefs collaboration dinner on Thursday, April 3, and the visiting chefs will join a dozen other chefs and farmers for the "Grand Taste" on Saturday.
The team will also dine at restaurants across Maui and visit island agritourism attractions, farms and small towns in an effort to learn more about Maui's dynamic culinary scene. Traveling with them are national and international food and travel writers, who are also here to learn and write about their experiences.
At "Ag in the Classroom," meet Maui's ag leaders and next generation of farmers, ranchers and educators. HC&S will present Maui's largest farmers' market, and ag allies will discuss careers in ag and hands-on gardening.
Don't miss this year's entertainment lineup with Lehua Kalima and Shawn Pimental, Kaumakaiwa and Kalapana.
Presented in partnership with Slow Food Maui, at "Grand Taste," see what Maui chefs and farmers cook, then listen to the judges' thoughts. This year's theme honors the culinary influences of the first immigrant laborers to Maui. Chefs will prepare dishes to showcase Maui's multicultural cuisine, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese and Hawaiian food. Purchase tickets online at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org or www.slowfoodmaui.org.
Other highlights include flower contests (sign up onsite); a Keiki Zone with barnyard games and farm activities, horseback and tram rides, face painting and more; livestock presented by Maui Cattle Company; Live Chefs' Challenge Presented by Kula Fields, a "Chopped"- inspired chef?s competition that kicks off the festival on the main stage; and "Localicious, Eat Maui" - from farm to table, sample hot dishes, fresh salads, cold ice cream and food trucks! For more information, go to www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org.