Orchids and art grace Hanapepe

Special to The garden Island

Walking through Hanapepe Town on Saturday during the Kaua‘i Orchid and Art Festival, one is reminded of the many achievements of the Hanapepe Economic Alliance.

“Our mission is to promote economic revitalization, historic preservation, main street beautification, and promote visitor awareness,” said Joanna Carolan, treasurer of HEA and one of the festival’s organizers.

HEA is an affiliation of Hanapepe businesses whose history goes back to shortly after Hurricane ‘Iniki.

They were incorporated in 1996 and one of their first projects was the Friday art night.

“That’s one of the things that has benefited the town the most,” Carolan said. “It has given (the town) an identity, an event and people love it.”

Producing the Historic Hanapepe Walking Tour Map enabled them to collect stories and information from residents and business owners.

Robert Ozaki, for example, grew up in Hanapepe and spent 50 years as a businessman there.

His history spanned 80 years. His oral history and those of others are now preserved in the map.

The history plaques on the buildings and tree planting were other successful projects of the HEA, said Carolan.

This is the first time the Garden Island Orchid Society and HEA partnered to present an orchid and art festival and early indicators point to success.

Members of the orchid show told Carolan that there were twice as many people at the show than usual and an increased number of entries. Gallery owners told her the festival drew more people to town.

Carolan said they didn’t know what to expect for their first art show, but the response, 65 entries, was much larger than expected.

“People from all over the island brought their art,” Carolan said.

She was especially pleased by the number of young, up-and-coming artists.

Two young artists, Brandee Santos and Shanelle Santos, received awards. This was Shanelle’s first art competition.

“For me, that was the art highlight,” Carolan said.

Besides the orchid and art displays, festival go-ers could do the Historic Hanapepe walking tour, attend workshops and concerts and purchase plate lunches, sushi and baked goods.

Proceeds from the food sales at the Hawaiian Congregational Church will benefit the West Kaua‘i Children’s Choir.

Choir leaders Kris Kealoha and Helen Sina will receive specialized training in the Kodaly method in July and plan to start the choir in August.

“The Kodaly method is an effective way of teaching children,” said Kealoha. “It addresses their sense of pitch, they learn fast and they learn better musically.”

Kealoha and Sina will incorporate cultural songs.

Marilyn Kaohi, who was helping at the baked goods sale booth, said a Honolulu choir introduced the method, which uses hand signals to show tonal relationships.

“The Eastside has lots of opportunities and resources; we want to offer the same to Westside children,” Kaohi said.

Carmen Yasis, Bonnie Tiffany, Annelise Martin and Judy Page said they were very happy to be able to attend the vanilla cuisine workshop offered by Helen Lacono.

Lacono gave each participant handouts that included not only recipes, but also background information on the vanilla bean plant and the culture.

Each participant left with a vanilla bean and cutting for a plant starter.

The participants, Yasis said, also left full after learning to make (and taste) crème brulee and vanilla bean ice cream.

Lacono and her daughter, Andrea Pisciotta Kaohi, own and operate Hanapepe Café. Lacono, who said she spent a number of years at Westlake Culinary Institute, takes care of the bakery. Her daughter handles the restaurant.

Lacono said they kept the original counter that is pictured on the plaque on the store front.

Their café used to be Igawa drug store, and Lacono can point to the prior store owner’s house atop Hanapepe Heights.

Lacono said 93-year-old Muneno Igawa stopped by just the other week.

Kimo Crowell had set up an easel and was painting an orchid outside Island Art Gallery. Crowell said he was making things more festive. Angela Headley is his teacher and mentor.

Headley received the Hanapepe Café Award for her artwork entitled “In My Garden.”

Other awardees included Bruna Stude, Robin Pearl Graphics Award; Donna Carrick, Winona Sears Memorial Award; Michelle Dick, Ultralight Adventures Kaua‘i Award; Eileen Kechloian, Banana Patch Studio Award; Georgia Hoopes, Hanapepe Artworks Award; Antonio Arellanes, Island Art Gallery Award; Brandee Santos, Hanapepe Design Studio Award; Shanelle Santos, Arius Hopman Gallery Award.

The artwork was on display at Antonio Arellanes’ Timespace Gallery.

“I’m very pleased; everyone worked so hard,” Carolan said.

• Cynthia Matsuoka is a freelance writer for The Garden Island and former principal of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. She can be reached by e-mail at aharju@kauaipubco.com.

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