Lei serious business on May Day

“Did you have your Hawaiian plate lunch yet? May Day only comes once a year, and you have to have Hawaiian plate lunch,” one of the lei contest judges said while wiping up the last bit of juices from the Kaiola Canoe Club offering, yesterday.

Carol Lovell, director of the Kaua‘i Museum, said the Lei Day contest comes only once a year, and the Kaiola Canoe Club’s Hawaiian plate lunch offering is only done twice a year at the museum.

“It’s for a good cause,” Lovell said. “The funds go to benefit the young paddlers.”

Sprawled out on the grounds of the museum, tents housed local crafters offering merchandise ranging from fish to jewelry.

For artist Fred Tangalin, a regular at the museum’s craft fair events, his mascot “Bojangles” stopped passers-by with his outfit of an orange bandana and a straw hat.

“I just got the hat today,” Tangalin said. “That must be why everyone is stopping to check him out.”

But the big attraction is the Lei Day contest that drew a wide variety of creations from local lei makers.

“We have 20 Special Award categories this year,” Lovell said. “That is in addition to the category winners.”

Denise Cremer was one of the bigger award winners this year.

“I’ve entered for three years,” she said. “But this is the first time I’ve won anything.”

But Cremer won two of the special awards and placed first in four of the categories — a clean sweep for the lei maker who said she only entered six lei this year.

Cremer credits her awards to her mother, Norma Jean Brown, who taught her the techniques.

Marina Pascua, a familiar name at the lei contest, copped two Special Awards — the Mayor’s Award and the new “Teacher’s Pet” Anna Sloggett Award.

“This was the first time I sewed a ti leaf lei and I won the Mayor’s Award,” Pascua said. “The hardest part of doing the lei was the design. It took about 10 hours to complete with most of the time spent in design.”

The winning lei featured a combination of red and green ti leaves sewn in a symmetrical pattern.

For her “Teacher’s Pet,” entry, Pascua utilized plumeria and designed the lei along a dragonfly theme with white petals serving as the insect’s wings.

Colene Schaefer captured the Kaua‘i Museum’s 27th annual Hawaiian Lei contest award followed by Kirby Guyer getting the Trustee’s Award as well as second in the Orange and/or Yellow category and third in the Hat category.

Manny Rapozo earned the President’s Award and Happy Tamanaha interrupted her lei making in the booths to accept her awards for the Ginger Alexander “Most Original” Award, the Peace Award and a new award this year — the Pohaku Nishimitsu Award to honor the kumu.

Jodi Gardner, longtime lei competitor, captured the Irmalee Pomroy Award with Linda Pitman getting the special Walter Pomroy “Ka lei I ka Wekiu” award, the first of two awards she earned.

Emma Chidgey, Pitman’s daughter, accepted the award along with the Anne Punohu Award and the Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival award for her mother. Pitman also copped the top honor for the Orange and/or Yellow category.

Chidgey went on to earn her own special Family Flower Farms award and third in the Mixed Colors category for her creations.

Angela Olivas had just returned from the Mainland and had enough time to put together a lei that captured the Kanu Hiwahiwa “non-endangered native Hawaiian or Polynesia lei” award.

“I just got home from Oregon, or I would have had more lei,” Olivas, a lei maker for Pono Market, said. “I just got some of the materials that are growing in my garden, and it ended up winning.”

Madeline Guyett won the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club award and Marilou Harchis accepted the koa paddle for winning the Hilton Kaua‘i Beach Resort award. Harchis also was the second place winner in the Pink and/or Red category.

Nani Kuehu was the recipient of the Aloha Beach Resort award and Ka‘iulani Barretto’s hat creation earned the Sheraton Kaua‘i award.

Other category winners included Elvrine Chow who took second in the Mixed Colors, third in the Blue and/or Purple, and third in the Red and/or Pink.

Georgia Fernandez and Denise Clark-Apo placed second and third, respectively, in the Plumeria category that was won by Gardner.

Gardner also topped the ti-leaf category followed by Betty Ihara and Marj Dente.

Hilary Steward was the second place finisher in the Hat category.

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