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Festivals are an economic engine for Kaua‘i

When was the last time you attended a festival on Kaua‘i? We are blessed with dozens of wonderful events to enjoy throughout the year — catering to the tastes of people from all walks of life.

Festivals on Kaua‘i are not just for visitors. They are first and foremost for us: residents who want to celebrate what is special about our beloved island. Great food, fun, music, fellowship, culture, education and advocacy are all part of the Kaua‘i festival “experience.” Oh, yes, and did I mention the great food?

A truly successful event makes it all look effortless. But whether it’s the Polynesian Festival, the Farm Fair, the Ocean Festival or Lights on Rice Parade, you really don’t know how difficult it is to organize and execute such an affair until you’ve tried.

Our office has the privilege of working with festival organizers from all over the island by providing grants from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s County Product Enrichment Program. Through the enrichment program initiative, $500,000 of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority funding is infused into our economy annually through the hard work of our festival organizers. That amount is matched by the organizers with either private donations or in-kind contributions of materials, equipment and labor provided by tireless volunteers.

Festivals are a major economic engine on Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has had the foresight to not just provide the funding, but also to offer the folks who run our festivals the technical and training support they need to be successful and create a sustainable event for the long run.

On May 16, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority will bring to the Kaua‘i Marriott the 2008 Festivals and Events Seminar titled “Secrets for Growth.” This one-day workshop is designed to give event organizers the tools they need to make their event as successful as it can be.

Speakers will include local experts like Katherine Fischer of the Hawai‘i Health Guide, who has offered the “Healing Garden” series of events on Kaua‘i, as well as national and international professionals. The President of the Gilroy Garlic Festival — one of the nation’s premiere food festivals — will share the secret to their 29 years of success. Attendees will also find out how the town of Hidalgo, Texas (population 8,000), grew its signature festival from 500 attendees to 80,000 in the span of three decades.

And if that weren’t enough, afternoon breakout sessions will feature beginner and advanced tracks, so you can take advantage of the training regardless of whether you’re a novice or a veteran organizer.

The $55 registration fee covers your attendance at all speaker and breakout sessions, as well as lunch provided by Chef Guy Higa and the amazing Marriott culinary crew. It will be a day well-spent for those who put their heart and soul into creating magical experiences through Kaua‘i’s myriad special events.

So, whether your event is large or small, old or new, join us on May 16. The 2008 Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Festivals and Events Seminar promises to deliver fun, fellowship, culture and education. Oh, yes, and did I mention the great food?

• Beth Tokioka is director of Kaua‘i County’s Office of Economic Development. She can be reached at

HTA’s Festivals and Events Seminar

• 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. May 16 at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club

• Registration Fee: $55 per person (includes lunch)

• Deadline for registration: May 8

• Registration forms can be downloaded from


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