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Autumn harvest celebration coming to Lahaina

By Staff | Aug 25, 2016

Toi Suchitra Srijantara will play a gu zheng harp at the festival.

LAHAINA – Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s annual harvest celebration, the Chinese Moon Festival, is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Wo Hing Museum at 858 Front St. in Lahaina between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Lahaina’s two-day moon festival celebrates the island’s harvest of locally grown produce as well as honored traditions from China.

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, moon festivals in China originated more than 2,000 years ago. Chinese emperors chose the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar to worship the moon and give offerings to the moon goddess.

Eventually, the festival evolved into a celebration of thanks for an abundance of fruits, vegetables and grains from harvests. The moon cake (a round cake with a sweet paste filling or salted duck egg yolk in the center) and colorful lanterns are symbolic traditions at a moon festival.

This year, Lahaina’s celebration will begin early with a moon festival talk and PowerPoint presentation by Busaba Yip, Ph.D, Wo Hing cultural director for Lahaina Restoration Foundation, on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at Lahaina Public Library.

During the festival on Sept. 16 and 17, attendees can also see Dr. Yip’s presentation about the history of moon festivals in China and around the world, as well as displays of traditional harvest offerings to the moon goddess and Chinese lanterns.

Kids will enjoy making paper lanterns and learning how to plant seeds. People of all ages can explore cultural activities such as Chinese calligraphy, knot tying and a talk on Hawaii feng shui by Diane Alba-Means.

In the evening, Chinese tea and moon cakes will be served in the garden to the accompaniment of an instrumental erhu performance by Hong Zhou, yang gin symbalom and gu zheng harp performance by Toi Suchitra Srijantara.

Festival-goers can watch traditional Chinese cooking demonstrations by Chef Bobby Santos on Friday and Chef Dean Louie on Saturday.

Chinese moon cakes will be available for sale. A decorative box of four large moon cakes costs $20 and one large moon cake sells for $6; fillings include taro, lotus and red bean. Moon cakes can be ordered prior to the festival by visiting the Baldwin Home Museum on Front Street or calling the LRF office at 661-3262. Cash and major credit cards are accepted.

The Chinese Moon Festival is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Maui Office of Economic Development. Wo Hing Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days with free admission. For more information and updates, see LahainaRestoration.org/events or visit Facebook.com/LahainaRestoration.