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Maui County Agricultural Festival poised to invigorate Maui

By Staff | Mar 31, 2016

Learn about Maui farmers at the Maui County Agricultural Festival.

WAILUKU – The second annual Maui County Agricultural Festival, Maui’s prime event to raise awareness about Maui agriculture while invigorating Maui ag, will take place on Saturday, April 2.

The entire industry, its allies and supporters come together on the luau grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu to share what each group does for the collective good of agriculture in the county, and to showcase ag’s vital role in the economy, environment and lifestyle of Maui.

Hosted by the Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB) in partnership with the county Office of Economic Development, generous sponsors and industry allies, here is the opportunity to learn about agricultural issues and their impact on our day-to-day lives.

Event hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; admission is $5 for adults and free for kupuna 65 and over and keiki under 18). Free parking and shuttle transfers will be offered from the Maalaea side parking lot to the main entrance to the Ag Fest.

Families won’t want to miss this year’s Maui Legacy Pancake Breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. It’s bingo, a raffle and time to honor three Maui farmers who have contributed greatly to Maui’s agricultural industry. They are Pardee Erdman, Buddy Nobriga and Hanako Hashimoto.

One of the big highlights this year is the expanded “Keiki Zone” complete with bouncers, farm games, livestock exhibit, pony and horse rides, and family friendly food by Chef/Owner Chris Schobel of Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse BBQ.

Expanding on activities for the whole family, check out the “Keiki and Teens Cook for Heart” from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Chefs Paris Nabavi of Sangrita Grill and Cantina, Rob Mason and Riko Bartolome will lead culinary classes from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. centered around three crops: avocado, tomatoes and bananas. This is all part of an American Heart Association program called “Keiki & Teens Cook for Heart.” The chefs have been in West Maui schools earlier this year teaching culinary classes in elementary schools and Lahainaluna High School.

More hands-on activities are found in the flower tent. The general public is invited to make fresh flower lei, ipu, along with Gayle and the team from Na Kani O Hula.

Festival highlights include the Grown on Maui Farmers’ Market. It’s good to know who grows our food. The market also shows the importance to ag of value-added products such as taro chips, pickles and teriyaki beef – they stretch the season, absorb surplus and provide extra farming revenue. Also check out the MauiWine and Maui Gold tent and Maui Coffee Association. Both demonstrate the process of growing an agricultural product and producing a value-added product.

At food booths, humble crops transform into satisfying meals when carefully prepared. Sample the best of all-natural beef (hamburgers, poke bowls and smoked meat). Choose from Hana Ranch Provisions, Poi By the Bound, Fork to Salad, Roselani Ice Cream, Shaka Pops, local favorites chow fun and smoked meat, and 100 percent Maui beef burgers and fries. Look for the Maui Fresh Streatery and Three’s Bar & Grill Food Truck.

At Barnyard Games, kids learn about ranching and food production while at play. Join the crowd for barnyard games favored by children around the world and learn about livestock.

Healthy soil and plants are key to successful farming. At Ask the Farm Doctor, Maui residents can bring soil samples for analysis, learn about plant health or peer through a microscope for a close-up of bugs affecting our crops with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources specialists.

At center stage, taiko drummers open up at 9:30 a.m. Sponsored by Edible Hawaiian Island, a Live Chefs Challenge is planned from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. Rounding out the day, Willie K will perform at 1:45 p.m.

Maui’s famed regional cuisine is based on locally grown produce. At Grand Taste, meet local chefs and farmers who are creating menus that matter from 3 to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets online at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org; the cost is $30 in advance or $40 at the event.