WTC mixes new with traditional to benefit nonprofits

WAIMEA — Thousands of people flowed through Waimea town, enjoying the many different aspects of the Waimea Town Celebration Friday and Saturday.

Presented by the West Kaua‘i Professional and Business Association, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Kikiaola Construction, with support from the County of Kaua‘i and numerous community organizations, the 36th Annual Waimea Town Celebration kicked off last Feb. 16 with the Kilohana Canoe Club Long Distance Race centering around the Waimea Pier, and wrapped up this weekend in the shadow of the former sugar mill.

This year’s theme was “Celebrating 36 years of commUNITY tradition.”

The event is dedicated to providing nonprofit organizations and clubs with the opportunity for necessary fundraising while promoting community unity and economic development.

Sherri Patrick of Leadership Kaua‘i said in a recent FM97 radio interview one of the new facets of this year’s celebration was the running of the one-man canoe races, featuring a long course starting from Port Allen Small Boat Harbor and a short course starting from the Salt Pond Beach Park. All crafts landed at Waimea Pier Saturday afternoon.

Another new appearance was the white canopy, and according to longtime event coordinator Chris Faye, was put up in response to people’s concern over the lack of protection from the daytime Waimea heat and sun.

A benefit of the canopy was the bank of overhead lamps, which aided the live streaming video overseen by Waimea High School media instructor Joyce Evens.

Lei contest

Another new item was the addition of the “Recyclable” category to the Paniolo Hat Lei Contest, the results of lei artists ranging from kindergarten through adult.

Napomaikai Kanahele earned top honors in the new category for the Kindergarten to 2nd grade division. Lolana Kanahele was runner-up and Urijah Acoba-Vea, winning the Grand Champion lei in the division, took third place.

Layla Sahut-Gray took top honors in the recyclable category in the Grade 3 to 5 division followed by Kaulana Pantohan-Kali. Braden Sanpei took Grand Champion honors in the division. He also topped the beautiful category over an entry submitted by Sahut-Gray.

Pi‘ikea Sahut topped the recyclable category in the Grade 6 to 8 division, followed by Waialoha Kahokuloa. Niryanne Santiago took Grand Champion honors in that division, Santiago also taking top honors in the beautiful category.

Renee Santos topped the Grade 9 to 12 division recyclable category. Nikki Ann Vea was the recipient of the Grand Champion award for the division, Vea also taking top honors in the beautiful category and third place in the unique category, Kustom Vea-Wise taking first and second places in that category.

Carleen Vea topped the adult division recyclable category followed by Marlina Vea-Jimenez and Georgia Fernandez.

Jerry Albarado earned the Grand Champion honor in the adult division for an entry featuring a combination of seeds and Ni‘ihau shells. Albarado also took second place in the Unique category for another creating utilizing wiliwili seeds and shells.

“These are lei we used to sew in the 1960s,” Albarado said. “I just thought I would see how they did in the contest. The seeds come from a vine growing in our Hanapepe Valley.”

Vendors display their wares

Shinil Quilty of Shinil Soap and Candle also unveiled a new product — aroma beads — which are very effective as a long-term car freshner.

A certified aroma therapist, Quilty started her business as a side track to working with her husband and features a line of high-quality aromatic candles as well as soap using olive oil.

The aroma beads come as a spin-off from a successful holiday season where her products was introduced to the public at various craft fairs.

Following her appearance at the Waimea Town Celebration, where Quilty had five flavors including tropical, pineapple, plumeria, Kaua‘i Breeze and Kaua‘i Sunrise, Quilty said she’ll be appearing at the craft fair at the Po‘ipu Beach Park on March 16 and at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa for the Prince Kuhio Day craft fair.

Sandy Vincent of Palolo, O‘ahu, was on the other side of the coin, having appeared at the Waimea Town Celebration for the past 20 years.

“This is a good way to stay connected to the island,” Vincent, who was raised in Wailua, said. “This year, our new item is handmade crab nets featuring real hau wood floaters. We also have the ultimate in bling — a lighted Cowboy hat — perfect for showing off during the night.”

Over on food booth row, Arthur Brun was busy mixing up a batch of Flying Saucer innards for the Waimea Blue Jays, sharing mixing techniques with Basilio “Bunga” Fuertes, who was tending the smoked meat for the West Kaua‘i Lions Club offering of a Smoked Meat Plate.

“They’re back,” said Pat Pablo of the West Kaua‘i Methodist Church, perennial purveyors of malasadas. “This year, we have banana lumpia — the pronto pups were being dispensed by the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i. Ryan Baniaga came back from Fort Worth, Texas, to help, and this year, we have Ed and Jan Connolly from Nebraska helping us. Ryan is so good, this year, he is doing the mixing.”

The Waimea Town Celebration is Kaua‘i’s largest and oldest annual festival, according to the West Kaua‘i Business and Profession Association website.

Visit for a complete list of sponsors who make the Waimea Town Celebration a reality.

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


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