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Two-day event to celebrate West Maui’s plantation heritage

By Staff | Oct 21, 2010

Attendees can learn about island cultures and foods at Lahaina Plantation Days. Photo by Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

LAHAINA — An annual event in Lahaina recognizes the contributions of the people who lived during West Maui’s plantation era.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s Lahaina Plantation Days 2010 festival will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, and 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the former Pioneer Mill site along Lahainaluna Road.

A melting pot of culture, history and entertainment, the event will feature historical displays, Pioneer Mill Company exhibit, camps exploring Chinese and Filipino culture, food booths and live music.

The Plantation Life Tent will feature historical displays and exhibits, as well as a registry honoring residents who lived and worked in Maui’s plantation camps.

Foundation Executive Director Theo Morrison explained that when Pioneer Mill shut down in 1999, a 139-year era abruptly ended with nothing to mark its closing.

The first Lahaina Plantation Days was held ten years later in 2009 to honor the people of the sugar era and pay tribute to West Maui’s plantation heritage.

“It immediately became apparent that without a concentrated effort to save the artifacts, the stories and the memories of plantation life, they would be gone forever,” Morrison said.

In February 2010, Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) opened the Plantation Museum at The Wharf Cinema Center to showcase plantation life artifacts, photos, maps and other information collected over the past year.

“The foundation has continued to collect artifacts from homes, garages and storage sheds and will be showcasing these newly saved artifacts at this year’s event,” she added.

On Friday, the entertainment lineup includes the Lahaina-Honolua Seniors at 5:15 p.m., Da Braddahs at 7 p.m., Weldon Kekauoha at 7:30 p.m. and Maoli at 9 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, LRF will unveil the brick walkway at the newly renovated Pioneer Mill Smokestack.

Those who purchased engraved bricks to help restore the 225-foot-high landmark will be able to see their bricks for the first time and pick up their replica bricks during the two-day event.

Attendees are encouraged to buy a brick to help support the second phase of the smokestack renovation.

Saturday’s entertainment slate includes Ola Hou at 4:15 p.m., Highway 30 at 5:15 p.m., Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom at 6:30 p.m., Damien Awai at 7 p.m., Na Palapalai at 7:45 p.m. and An Den at 9 p.m.

No Maui celebration would be complete without ono food. Attendees can choose from more than 15 food booths, popular Ono Huli Chicken, shave ice, a MauiGrown Coffee tent and beer and wine garden.

New this year, Lahaina Restoration Foundation chose different cultures to explore in Cultural Camps.

The Chinese cultural area will feature the traditions of knotting, Tai Chi Xi Gong and Mah Jong. Cooking demonstrations and sales of popular Chinese dishes and products — including Hop Wo Bakery’s beloved bread and biscuits on Saturday (quantities are limited) — will round out the festivities.

In the Filipino Cultural Camp, the public can see the keiki grease pole climbing competition, a traditional roasting of lechon (roasted pig) and other foods, traditional folk dances, Escrima demonstration, historical and cultural displays and a rare opportunity to meet some of the original “Sakadas,” who came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. Their dedication and hard work paved the way for future generations, LRF noted.

A Keiki Zone for children will feature pony rides, a petting zoo and carnival games for just one scrip, including duck pond, clown bean bag toss, ring toss, balloon dart throw, “can can” and a fishing game. Face painting will be offered for two scrip.

Celebrating agriculture on the island, Maui County Farm Bureau members will sell fresh Kula strawberries, corn, tomatoes, bananas, broccoli, beans, zucchini, watercress, radishes, green onion, lettuce, papaya, cabbage, Maui onions and kai choy in the Farmers’ Market.

A Polynesian farm will offer taro, sweet potatoes, bananas, papayas, coconuts, oranges, taro leaves and fresh lei.

Hali’imaile Pineapple Company will be in the Pineapple Tent offering fresh Maui Gold pineapple.

General admission is $3 per person; keiki five and under will be admitted free. Special $2 early admission will be offered Saturday only from 4 to 5 p.m. Event parking is free.

For tickets and more information, call 661-3262 or visit www.LahainaRestoration.org.