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Event highlights spirit of the West Maui community

By Staff | Nov 4, 2010

The Wo Hing Society and Lahaina Restoration Foundation presented “Lahaina Chinatown,” a visual illustration of Chinese culture in Lahaina. Photo by Lori Nishikawa.

LAHAINA — Touted as West Maui’s biggest family event of the year, the “Lahaina Plantation Days” held Oct. 22-23 lived up to its reputation.

Held on the former Pioneer Mill site surrounding the historic smokestack along Lahainaluna Road, close to 5,000 residents and visitors of all ages attended the two-day affair.

“It was incredible to see so many Maui families and visitors enjoying this year’s festivities,” said Lahaina Restoration Foundation Executive Director Theo Morrison.

“I think that’s what this annual event is all about — a time where we can bond and share our Lahaina roots. This is a special place with a rich heritage and unforgettable people. I hope we never forget where we came from and the events and people that have gotten us where we are today.”

The event’s presenter, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, unveiled the bricks purchased during the first phase of its Pioneer Mill Smokestack renovation project.

Bob Kawaguchi shares the Aloha ‘Ohana Gang’s secret recipe for Ono Huli Chicken. Photo by: Linn Nishikawa.

Hundreds of attendees had an opportunity to view the neatly lined bricks that formed a pathway adjacent to the historic landmark. Each brick was engraved with the names of loved ones, plantation families and businesses.

Performances by local entertainers Amy Gilliom, Da Braddahs, Weldon Kakauoha, Kanani Baz, Ola Hou, HWY 30, Na Palapalai, Damien, An Den and the Lahaina Honolua Seniors attracted big crowds.

There was also food for the soul, with 15 booths manned by Maui hotels, restaurants and local mom and pops offering a variety of “broke-the-mouth” cuisine and island favorites.

Exhibits in the Plantation Life Tent and the Pioneer Mill Sugar Tent offered the opportunity to reminisce over West Maui’s rich plantation roots.

Local farmers proudly touted the fruits of their labor, along with food vendors who offered everything from 100 percent MauiGrown Coffee and Maui Gold pineapple to beer and wines.

In the Chinese Cultural Camp, attendees couldn’t get enough of the Hop Wo bread that sold out in minutes. There was the wonderful aroma of manapua and pot stickers, the impressive demonstrations from a Tai Chi master, and colorful and creative Chinese arts and crafts. Who could forget the strolling “Manapua Man” wandering the event and passing out goodies to eat.

Next door in the Filipino Cultural Camp, food and dance celebrated the rich heritage. A menu of lechon, balut, pansit, lumpia and cancanun was offered. So, too, were the talents of Lawrence Pascua’s dance troupe, La Galeria: Compania Baile Filipino, who presented a series of traditional Filipino dances representative of the many regions of the Philippines.

Keiki got their chance to try the Greased Pole Climbing Contest, and event attendees had the special opportunity to talk story with some of the original Sakadas, the original Filipino recruits to the plantation workforce of Hawaii in the early 1900s.

Keiki also enjoyed horse rides from Kalee’s Retirement Center.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation extended a big mahalo to everyone who contributed to this year’s success, including the county Office of Economic Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kaanapali Land Management Corp., Old Lahaina Luau, Maui Soda & Ice Works, MauiGrown Coffee, Bud Light, Hawaiian Airlines, KPOA, Paradise Television, Mahana, Kaanapali Shores, Paki Maui and the festival’s many volunteers.