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Heritage festival celebrates life of  Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Lahaina’s Chinese families

By Staff | Oct 26, 2017

Early 20th century Chinese children watch the ocean in Lahaina. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAHAINA RESTORATION FOUNDATION.

LAHAINA – This year’s celebration of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, recognized as the Father of Modern China, will also pay tribute to Lahaina’s Chinese families during the Sun Yat-sen Chinese Heritage Festival on Friday, Nov. 10, from 5 to 9 p.m. Lahaina Restoration Foundation and Wo Hing Society will present an array of cultural, art and musical activities at Wo Hing Museum and Cookhouse at 858 Front St. in Lahaina. The museum will open at 10 a.m., offering free admission all day.

Beginning Monday, Nov. 6, and running through Nov. 10, visitors can learn about the extraordinary life of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his connection to Maui in an educational exhibit and film tribute, as well as view displays on the Wo Hing Society’s temple and social hall. Admission is free.

On Friday, special guest Barbara Chung Ho of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Outreach College will present a workshop on paper cutting, a folk art of China, from 5 to 8 p.m. Students from the Maui Academy of Performing Arts’ Summer Musical Theatre group will perform fan, ribbon and umbrella dances from the Disney musical “Mulan Jr.” at 6:30 p.m.

Between 5 and 9 p.m., activities for the whole family will include Chinese calligraphy demonstrated by Rev. Takayuki Meguro of Lahaina Shingon Mission and knot tying with expert Brenda Wong. Enjoy Chinese acupressure massage from Toi Suchitra Srijantara. Maui Jade Traders will display and sell jade products.

Traditional Chinese music will be performed by Hong Zhou on the bamboo flute and erhu string instrument. Sit under umbrellas in the garden to dine on Chinese food that will be sold by Only Ono BBQ. As a special treat, packages of crack seed snacks, such as li hing mui, lemon, ginger, olive and plum, will be sold for $1 to $4 per bag with a Hop Wo Store label on them. Sales proceeds will be donated by Wo Hing Society back to the event.

Festival-goers will be treated to presentations by Wo Hing Museum Cultural Director Busaba Yip, which will weave the story of Sun Yat-sen and his brother Sun Mei, who came to Maui during the Plantation Era, together with stories from the Wo Hing Society and Lahaina’s Chinese families. Guest presenters include Robert Santos, a Ching family member, who will discuss the boarding house for Chinese men that his family operated across the street from the Wo Hing Temple, and Carolyn Kam, who will show photos from her family’s Hop Wo Store on Front Street, famous for its Hop Wo bread. Presentations are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The festival is part of November’s Lahaina Second Friday Town Party, which is themed, “How Sweet It Was – A Celebration of Plantation Days.” Four events in four locations along Front Street will be combined into one large, walkable celebration: Sun Yat-sen Chinese Heritage Festival at Wo Hing Museum; grand reopening of the expanded Plantation Museum at The Wharf Cinema Center; The Village Galleries exhibition featuring the Jo Rockwell Collection of paintings of Maui’s sugar mills and scenes by local artists who have documented plantation life on Maui; and a slideshow of Plantation Life scenes and video screening of the locally produced documentary “The Last Harvest” on the Second Friday stage in Campbell Park.

Sun Yat-sen (Nov. 12, 1866 – March 12, 1925) was raised and educated in Hawaii. After returning to China as a young man, he made several trips to the islands, gaining local support for the Chinese revolution that ultimately led to the overthrow of China’s Manchu Qing Dynasty in 1911. His older brother, Sun Mei, was a prosperous rancher who lived in Keokea on Maui and was considered a silent hero behind the revolution. Dr. Sun served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China in 1912.

Sun Yat-sen Chinese Heritage Festival is presented by the Wo Hing Society and Lahaina Restoration Foundation and sponsored by Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Maui Office of Economic Development.

For more information, call the museum at (808) 661-5553 or visit LahainaRestoration.org/events. For updates, see Facebook @LahainaRestoration, Twitter @LahainaRestFnd or Instagram @LahainaRestoration.