Help save Kaua‘i’s forests, a vine at a time

Now in its 17th year, the Banana Poka RoundUp will happen May 28 in Koke’e State Park.

Every year, the colorful event “rounds up” visitors, families and residents for a cool day of mountain music, workshops, exhibits and family activities that has become a tradition on Kaua‘i’s Westside. Hui o Laka, the non-profit organization that operates Koke‘e Natural History Museum and Koke‘e Resource Conservation Program, sponsors the event with support from community volunteers and businesses and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The festival is named for just one of the many threats to Kaua‘i forests, the resilient and spreading banana poka vines that sport candy-pink blossoms that threaten to crowd out native Hawaiian plants and trees of the upland forest.

Basket-makers will spend the day learning to weave the pliable vines into baskets of functional form and beauty and lei makers will weave fern and ornamentals into beautiful lei po‘o (head lei) to the strains of beautiful Hawaiian music this year played by Cindy Combs, The Happy Enchilata and Uncle Harry Koizumi & Friends. To sign up for the basket or lei workshop (the $15 fee makes you a member of Hui o Laka), call 335-9975.

Free Oshibana card making will be offered from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. A free family hike on the Berry Flats Loop will leave the RoundUp at 12:30 p.m.

The core message of the day-long RoundUp is always in its array of educational exhibits, displayed by a variety of environmental agencies and organizations, with hands-on exhibits attended by volunteers and agency representatives who can answer most questions. This year will also include recycled craft demonstrations and a Mr. and Miss Banana Poka Pageant for children 13 and under.

Exhibitors will include KKCR, Conservation & Resources Enforcement, Storybook Theatre of Hawai’i, Garden Island RC&D, Koke’e Leaseholders Association, Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee, Koke‘e Resource Conservation Program, Kaua‘i Recycling for the Arts, KIUC’s Save Our Shearwater Project and DLNR’s Division of Forestry & Wildlife — Kauai Endangered Bird Recovery Team.

The “One Person Can Make a Difference” volunteer awards will be announced at noon and then participants can join “Russell da Rooster” and Mark Jeffers of Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i for the annual “Crowing Contest” at 12:15 p.m., with child and adult categories.

The Banana Poka RoundUp is supported by many island businesses.

The “festival with the funny name” is free and begins at 10 a.m. and winds down at 3 p.m.

Carpooling is recommended, as parking is limited, and absolutely no animals will be allowed. For more information, call Koke‘e Museum at 335-9975 or e-mail


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