Waimea Town on Kaua‘i’s sunny Westside is the island’s oldest settlement and a capital from ancient Hawaiian days.
Its fascinating history encompasses the turbulence of post-European contact, starting with Captain James Cook’s first landing in Hawai‘i on his extraordinary voyages of discovery in the Pacific. Waimea was a favorite provision stop for fur and sandalwood traders and witnessed the dramatic stand-off of King Kamehameha’s superior forces by Kaua‘i’s King Kaumuali‘i that lasted decades.
It was a port of call for Russian empire builders, whalers and missionaries, and then to the people of many nations who were drawn here by the growth of 19th century agricultural pursuits in rice, cattle and sugarcane.
Every year, the aloha and unique character of the town come together for community events. The largest, held in February, is the Waimea Town Celebration. Now in its 28th year, the event draws over 10,000 people in a two-day flurry of events. Starting in 1978 as part of the tremendous world-wide bicentennial celebration of Captain Cook’s landing in Hawai‘i, the Captain Cook Caper Fun Run’s carbo-loading party got to be “too-fun-for-just-the-runners” and very quickly turned into a town party. Soon the whole island was invited and the event outgrew the town center and moved to the outskirts of town around the old Waimea sugar mill.
Today, events, scattered over a two-mile area include Hawaiian outrigger canoe races, Hawaiian cowboy events, ukulele contest, lei-making contest, softball tournaments, ice cream eating contest, games, crafts, local food favorites, the Coor’s Beer Garden, non-stop up-and-coming and greats of Hawaiian music and more. The purpose of the Waimea Town Celebration is to give West Kaua‘i schools, clubs and non-profits a chance to raise funds. Many businesses and individuals are involved in preparation, manning booths, and participation.
Visitors to the islands find a family-style atmosphere where they are welcome to share and get to know a community that has been well known for its hospitality long before the anchoring of Cook’s ships “Resolution” and “Discovery” in 1778.
The Waimea Town Celebration is held every year on the Friday and Saturday following the President’s Day long weekend.
Other events for 2006 are: the Burns Supper Saturday, which was held in January, and the Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade scheduled this year for Saturday, Dec. 23.