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Festival poised to invigorate Maui agriculture

By Staff | Mar 23, 2017

The tenth annual Maui County Agricultural Festival is an opportunity to learn about agriculture’s vital role in the economy, environment and lifestyle of Maui.

WAILUKU – The tenth annual Maui County Agricultural Festival, Maui’s prime event to raise awareness about Maui ag, will take place on April 1. The entire industry, its allies and supporters will 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 in partnership with the county Office of Economic Development, generous sponsors and industry allies, the annual event is an opportunity to learn about agricultural issues and their impact on our day-to-day lives.

Event hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults (free for kupuna 65 and over and keiki under 18). There will be free parking and shuttle transfers from the Maalaea side parking lot to the festival’s main entrance.

Families won’t want to miss this year’s Maui Legacy Pancake Breakfast from 8 to 10:30 a.m. It’s bingo, a raffle and time to honor four Maui farmers who have contributed greatly to Maui’s agricultural industry. They are Peter Baldwin of Piiholo Ranch; Richard “Dick” Cameron of HC&S; Doug MacCluer of Maui Pineapple Company and Maui Gold Pineapple Co.; and the late Dr. Wilbert Yee of Yee’s Orchard, which is famous for its Golden Glow mangoes.

One of the big highlights this year is the expanded “Keiki Zone” complete with entertainment stage featuring music and magic show, bouncers, farm games, livestock exhibit, pony and horse rides and family friendly food. Expanding on activities for the whole family, check out the “Kids/Teens Cook With Heart” culinary classes from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Presented by Chefs Paris Nabavi, Craig Erickson, Elizabeth (Betty) McDonald, Jojo Vasquez, Kaipo Nagata, Lyndon Honda, Riko Bartolome, Rob Mason and Ryan Luckey, kids are encouraged to take culinary classes centered around three crops: avocado, tomatoes and bananas. The program, which is offered in Lahaina area elementary, middle and high schools through a generous grant to the American Heart Association by the Saunders Family, is designed to teach students the basic skills required to prepare their own meals at home, as well as the information they need to make healthier choices.

Other festival highlights include the Grown on Maui Farmers Market, food booths, barnyard games, horse and pony rides throughout the day, and “Ask the Farm Doctor” (bring soil samples for analysis and learn about plant health and pests).

The day’s entertainment slate includes taiko drummers, the Kamehameha Schools Maui Ensemble, Honoka’a Jazz Band, Lehua Kalima and Shawn Pimentel, Napua Nakasone Greig and Halau Nalei Kaumaka O Uka, and the Kaina Country Band.

The Live Chefs Challenge, sponsored by Edible Hawaiian Islands, is planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Grand Taste this year is sponsored by the Ulupono Initiative. Maui’s famous regional cuisine is based on locally grown produce. Meet local chefs and farmers who are creating menus that matter. Set for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., tickets are available online at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org for $30 in advance and $40 at the event.

Featured chefs include Jeff Scheer of The Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation; Anton Haines of Merriman’s Kapalua; Alvin Savella of The Banyan Tree at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; David Diviano of Cane & Canoe at Montage Kapalua Bay; Jesse Pita of Pulehu at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas; Charlie Owen of Hula Grill Kaanapali; Chris Leaderer of Black Rock Kitchen at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa; Gevin Utrillo of Japengo at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa; Mike Lofaro of Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea; Tylun Pang of Ko at The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui; Travis Morrin of Three’s Bar & Grill; and Chris Schobel of Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse.