Toere drums tap in Polynesian fest

LIHU‘E n The rat-a-tat of conversing toere Tahitian drums carried on the wind and mingled with the wail of Kaua‘i police sirens from a KPD emergency driving class taking place at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot yesterday.

The toere unmistakenly announces the opening of the three-day Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival that this year is celebrated on the soccer fields at Vidinha Stadium.

Previously, the cultural event was held at the Kukui Grove Park and Pavilion, but due to the ongoing construction of the Costco store, organizers were forced to seek out other sites for the annual event.

This year, coupled with a heavy agenda of items taking place at Vidinha Stadium, the Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival displaced the normal rows of Kaua‘i Farmers’ Market vendors to the far end of the makai parking lot.

Vendors and customers arriving for the normal Friday Farmers’ Market were greeted by aisles filled with cars.

One vendor who arrived early said they had no communication from the county about what was going to take place, and only after informally meeting among themselves, was able to relocate the dual rows of vendors to the far side of the makai parking lot.

A gala cultural banquet formally opened the celebration Thursday night at the Sheraton Kaua‘i, but the competition and selling started yesterday.

Pete Alquiza, whose wife Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza normally spearheads the event, said this year the craft tent features about 40 vendors with a lot of vendors coming from Tahiti and the other Pacific Islands. Additionally, there is one vendor from Maui, several from O‘ahu, and one from the Big Island joining several Kaua‘i vendors in the big tent.

A variety of food offerings benefiting local organizations keep festival celebrants full between the crafts and competition.

Aunty Val, one of the vendors from New Zealand lost little time getting youngsters familiar with poi balls, an implement used by the Maori in their dances. Val has been attending the festival for several years, and on this trip had some of her relatives on hand to help her.

Hei Fara is a drum maker from Tahiti, and along with Jessie Jessie, another drum maker from the Cook Islands, were sounding out toere being created out of milo and kamani wood.

Each night’s competition opens with protocol from different parts of the Pacific with last night’s protocol featuring New Zealand, tonight’s protocol going to Tahiti and Samoa.

Last night’s slate featured a variety of exhibition dances from the different parts of the Pacific as well as competitive phases for the Na Kupuna Auwana Group Competition and Na Keiki/Opio solo Hula Kahiko competition.

Group competition in Otea, Aparima, and Ahupurotu is on the agenda for this evening following the protocol ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m., and the competition wraps up tomorrow with the ori, or solo, Tahitian dance as well as Tahitian drumming startin g at 1 p.m.

Fire knife competitors light up the stage tonight following the Samoa protocol at 8:30 p.m.

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

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