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Legacy Farmers to be honored at pancake breakfast at Maui AgFest

By Staff | May 30, 2019

WAILUKU – The renamed and expanded Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair will open its 12th year in the community the same way as in past years: with an old-fashioned pancake breakfast honoring local farmers for their contributions to our community.

This year’s Maui Legacy Farmers Pancake Breakfast will pay tribute to three Maui champions of agriculture: George “Keoki” Freeland, Arthur DePonte and the late Masaru Uradomo.

The breakfast is a delicious, island-style way to kick off the festival, serving up a full buffet of bacon, sausage, eggs, juice, pancakes and syrup, along with local coffee from Maui Oma Coffee Roasting. The fun morning also offers door prizes, including Grown on Maui produce, products and plants.

The new Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair will bring together two important agricultural celebrations in a larger capacity at War Memorial Complex on Saturday, June 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – and it’s free!

Maui County Farm Bureau is pleased to partner with the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and Maui 4-H Livestock Association to share this celebration of agriculture’s essential role with the community.

The pancake breakfast begins at 8 a.m. in an open-air tent. Breakfast tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65 and older) and children 5-12; keiki five and under are free.

“Honoring our Legacy Farmers is an important part of AgFest and now an important part of the 4-H Livestock Fair as well,” said Warren Watanabe, executive director of the Maui County Farm Bureau. “Our agricultural industry on Maui would not exist as we know it without the lasting contributions these folks have made.”

One of the Legacy Farmers has West Maui ties.

Freeland grew up in Lahaina during the Plantation Era. After he graduated from Lahainaluna High School, he earned a Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of Notre Dame.

He attended Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association and Amfac training programs on six different plantations, designing machines and different methods of operation to mechanize field and factory operations.

“I have always enjoyed helping people to make their jobs easier, leading to greater productivity and success,” he said.

Freeland worked at Oahu Sugar Co. for 21 years and at Pioneer Mill Sugar Co. for ten years, with job titles that included Mechanical Operations Supervisor, Mechanical Operations Superintendent, Cultivation Superintendent, Irrigation Superintendent, Harvesting Superintendent, and Operations Manager. His proudest career moment came when he was promoted to Vice President & General Manager of Pioneer Mill Sugar Co.

While Amfac was in the process of shutting down Pioneer Mill’s sugar operations in 1995, Freeland moved on to a new career as executive director of Lahaina Restoration Foundation. There he led efforts to preserve Lahaina Town’s history, including the mill’s smokestack and his family-owned Pioneer Inn, which was built by his grandfather in 1901. He also worked with Friends of Moku’ula to restore the royal Hawaiian pond.

Now retired, Freeland supports his successful artist wife, Betty Hay, in her business, and also enjoys hunting, hiking and surfing. His favorite way to enjoy Maui ag? A juicy Lahaina mango.

Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair provides a full day of activities, education, crops, animals, games and talk story sessions. Admission is free. Parking is $5 per car in the stadium, baseball field and War Memorial Gym parking lot. Handicapped parking is available in the gym lot.

For a complete schedule of events, more information and to purchase tickets for the 2019 Maui Legacy Farmers Pancake Breakfast, visit www.mauiagfest.org.