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‘Lahaina Plantation Days, Then and Now’ a cultural celebration

By Staff | Jul 30, 2009

In preparation for the Lahaina Plantation Days event, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company and West Maui Land Company crews, as well as event volunteers, help position a five-ton crusher once used at Pioneer Mill to get the juice out of the sugar cane. A number of plantation equipment and historic displays will be set up for the public to view at Pioneer Mill during this first-time event that honors West Maui’s plantation roots.

LAHAINA — Ten years after Pioneer Mill Company closed its doors after 139 years in business, Lahaina Restoration Foundation will pay tribute to West Maui’s plantation roots in a three-day event, “Lahaina Plantation Days, Then and Now.”

The event will be held on Thursday, July 30, through Saturday, Aug. 1, on the Pioneer Mill site surrounding the historic smokestack on Lahainaluna Road. Event hours are 7 to 9:30 p.m. on July 30, and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. on July 31 and Aug. 1.

On Thursday, the event kicks off with a 60-minute documentary by filmmakers Eddie and Myrna Kamae called “Lahaina: Waves of Change.” To be shown in an outdoor theater on the mill site, the film highlights Lahaina’s rich history as the first capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and later the center of the sugar industry in West Maui. 

“Eddie and Myrna took ten years putting this film together,” said Jerry Kunitomo, owner of B.J.’s Chicago Pizzeria in Lahaina.

“Being there when they present their film on the mill site promises to be chicken skin.” 

On Thursday, July 30, the event will kick off with the special film “Lahaina: Waves of Change” by Eddie and Myrna Kamae. This film documents 200 years of rich and fascinating history in Lahaina, the first capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and later the center of the sugar industry in West Maui.

Watch as Sammy Kadotani, an active plantation community leader, turns on the switch to light the historic smokestack. Film gates will open at 7 p.m., with the feature film starting at 8 p.m. Historical displays, coffee tent, beer garden, hot dogs and chow fun booth will be available that evening.

On Friday and Saturday, local entertainment will feature Uncle Richard Ho‘opi‘i, Eddie Kamae with Mike Ka‘awa and Analu Aina, Ekolu, Keali‘i Reichel, Ron Kuala‘au and Tunana, Na Kupuna ‘Ohana Serenaders, Maui Chinese Martial Arts Academy, Zenshin Daiko, Santiago Association of Maui Dance Group, KPOA’s “Morning Goddess” Alaka‘i Paleka and Maui “Tita” Kathy Collins.

Performers will offer a mix of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music, Chinese lion dance and martial arts demonstrations, Japanese taiko and traditional Filipino dance. 

“We’re ecstatic to have these talented artists performing at the Plantation Days event,” said Kunitomo. 

“This event is reminiscent of West Maui’s plantation era, where people of diverse cultures and ethnicities came together at work and company gatherings. It was this bond that made them all one ‘ohana.”

“The music will also help to bond our extended West Maui family,” said Theo Morrison, Lahaina Restoration Foundation executive director.

She shared a quote by Uncle Richard Ho‘opi‘i, who grew up in the tiny village of Kahakuloa on Maui: “Fame comes and goes, but the music of the village is always here with us in our hearts and in our memories.”

Attendees will also enjoy more than 15 restaurant food booths, MauiGrown Coffee garden, beer tent, historical displays and exhibits, “Camp Reunion Tent” honoring those who lived and worked in West Maui’s plantation camps, Kid’s Zone with horse rides and a petting zoo, and farmers’ market. The public will also have the opportunity to “Buy a Brick” to help restore the 225-foot-high Pioneer Mill Smokestack.

Admission on all three nights of the event is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and free for keiki 12 and under are free. A special three-day pass is available for $5. 

Admission tickets are available onsite at the gate, and three-day passes can be purchased in advance at the MauiGrown Coffee Company Store on Lahainaluna Road. Event parking is free.

For tickets and more information, call Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s event hotline at 667-9194 or visit www.LahainaRestoration.org.

Lahaina Plantation Days is brought to you in part by the Maui County Office of Economic Development and Hawaii Tourism Authority.