More than gifts shine in Po’ipu

PO’IPU — “I came because Paula (Ishii-Murakami) said I should come,” Karin Panui said. “And, I’m glad I came, because it’s been real busy.”

Vendors at the Holiday Festival hosted by leaders of the Kauai Products Council greeted streams of customers and shoppers bathed in the warm, morning Po’ipu sunshine and looking for holiday gift ideas.

“It was raining when we left this morning, so I was just praying that the weather was good in Po’ipu,” said Greg Stoll of Kilauea, normally a chef at the Bali Hai restaurant in the Hanalei Bay Resort, but on his day off, helping his wife Sonya serve up “local kine grinds and smoothies” at the festival.

Panui was one of over 80 vendors who took advantage of the opportunity to bring their wares to people on the South Shore and Westside. Her recommendation came from vendor Paula Ishii-Murakami, who was busy talking about her brilliant-glass jewelry.

Teresa Daher, president of the Kauai Products Council, said that Saturday’s event was the third of three themed offerings presented by KPC leaders.

The craft fair becomes more than a craft fair when coupled with a theme, and hands-on offerings, she said.

Members of Halau Palaihiwa O Kapuwai hosted a hands-on, cultural experience for shoppers in their Holiday Hawaiiana Passport tent.

Daher said that shoppers not only got a sampling of Kaua’i-made items, but also a taste of the culture through the participation of members of various halau and other groups.

Additionally, members of the halau, under kumu hula Kehau Kekua, took their turn on the entertainment lineup with a ho’ike (show) for the shoppers.

Ilima Rivera was another local entertainer who, through experience and appearances, had not only her live entertainment, but harvested greenery and flora from her back yard to offer shoppers a taste of Kaua’i holidays.

Her Hawaiian gift-wrapping service featured bows fashioned out of dried koa pods and garnished with ‘opihi shells and bits of ocean-washed glass harvested by her children.

Additionally, Rivera, one of the daughters of Kaua’i composer and entertainer Larry Rivera, had CDs and cassettes of her holiday mele (songs).

Daher said their next event will take place in February, with a Sweetheart Festival theme, followed in the summer with a craft, music, and hula festival.

The Po’ipu event features all Kaua’i vendors and crafters because, Daher explained, she wants to ensure that the money stays on the island.

The event also is a venue for Kaua’i crafters to exhibit and showcase their creations in a centralized arena, that on Saturday, overflowed into two tents, with a separate tent for activities and another for entertainment.

Stoll, who was busy working the smoothie machine as well as prepping plate lunches, said he started doing this when he started helping the Pop Warner program back in 1992.

Since then, he and his wife were asked for help by the Tahiti Fete people, and, today, they operate out of their house in Kilauea, doing events like the Holiday Festival.

Fran Kelly of Frantastic Coffee had Toni Morath to help her in Po’ipu. Kelly, who mans the hotdog cart outside Cost-U-Less in Kapa’a, moved to Kilauea in March, and is looking forward to her first holidays on Kaua’i.

She explained that she met Morath, who was a customer of her stand in Kapa’a and, since then, have become friends.

Kelly, whose offerings included a variety of locally produced pastries, offered a variety of coffee-related drinks as well, noting, “Everything packs up in a cart, and I just roll it along with me.”

Traffic in the normally-congested Po’ipu Beach Park area was helped along by the Tony Pajela family and members of his Garden Island Security.

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