Psaltery tunes enliven Westside festival

WAIMEA n Everyone had something to contribute at the Fourth Annual Westside Family Celebration.

Margaret Bradford, camping in Koke‘e, read about the event in the newspaper and decided to check it out before leaving for a four-week stay in Alaska.

She brought along her bowed psaltery, a wooden triangular instrument strung with steel wire and played by running a bamboo bow over the wires.

“I just learned how to play a Hawaiian song,” Bradford said as she was engrossed in conversation with some of the kupuna who were on hand for the celebration at the Waimea Canyon School grounds.

She extracted a sheaf of papers containing numerous songs she had transposed into playable pieces on the bowed psaltery and struck up a familiar “Hava Nagila.” It caught the attention of Sabra Kauka, who jigged her way over to the shade where Bradford was playing.

“My husband made this instrument,” Bradford said of the bowed psaltery, which has a history dating back more than 1,000 years to biblical times.

This version was a plucked psaltery, Bradford said. The bowed psaltery originated in Germany in the 1930s when Edgar Stahmer made the triangular-shaped instrument out of a bamboo bow strung with horse hair.

The interest in the kupuna area was keen as Waimea High School Junior ROTC cadets gathered around kumu Kimo Perry to try their hand at mashing out poi in the Pa‘a Kai station.

“You gotta send this to California,” one of the students told Steven Sczepaniak, who mashed taro into poi following the example of fellow Junior ROTC cadet Steeven Remigio.

For the Junior ROTC cadets, this was a time to enjoy some of the activities offered after they spent several hours erecting tents that housed community resource agency representatives for the event.

“I’m glad we finally got it,” Waimea Canyon School principal Glenda Miyazaki said. “For years, it’s been at the Waimea High School campus, and this is the first time we’ve been able to host it. I hope we can get it back, again.”

Under the tents housing the community resources, keiki engaged in more activities ranging from creating dolls out of felt and accessories to digging for realistic wriggly critters out of a container of potting soil.

Rebecca Smith of Tobacco-Free Kaua‘i found an effective use for her digital camera as she photographed youngsters and families and converted them into identification tags with an anti-tobacco message.

Jose Bulatao, known as “West Kaua‘i’s own Living Treasure,” served as the day’s emcee with Lopaka Bukoski of Ho‘ola La‘hui Hawai‘i delivering the opening oli.

Kaua‘i Police Department school resource officers James Rodriguez and Paul Applegate offered workshops on “Drugs and the Law” and “Introduction to Gangs.”

Both workshops were geared to promote more public awareness of the physical and psychological effects and dangers of illicit drug use. The gang workshop focused on characteristics, activities, and membership of youth gangs with an emphasis on the Westside community.

Participating agencies included the American Heart Association, the Boys & Girls Club, the Children’s Justice Center, Circle of Light, the Department of Education PCNC and PSAP programs, Good Beginnings Alliance, Healthy Start, Head Start, Nana’s House, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i, Kamehameha Schools, Kaua‘i Police Department, Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha, Native Hawaiian Education Council, NA Baby Safe, PATCH, PMRF Child Development Center, Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, Tobacco-Free Kaua‘i, West Kaua‘i Community Association and the Waimea Plantation Cottages.

Major sponsors of the event included the Hawai‘i Children’s Trust Fund, West Kaua‘i Coalition, the DOE, and Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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