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Mangoes & music

Mangoes and music may seem like an odd pair, but for those at the Waipa Foundation, the combination is an organic one.

The result is the organization’s Waipa Music and Mango Festival, an annual event that features food demonstrations, crafts from local artisans, and live music from local artists.

The combined festival will make its second comeback this weekend beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Waipa Foundation’s Halulu Fishpond.

“The strong support of our island community and our shared delight in homegrown music — and mangoes — has helped to grow the festival into a major summer celebration,” said Kalen Kelekoma, special programs manager at the Waipa Foundation on the North Shore.

But the two key elements of the festival, he said, matured and grew separately over time.

The concept for a Mango Festival, Kelekoma said, arose from a mango grafting class that Yossi and Kuuleialoha Johnson began teaching about four years ago at the Waipa Foundation.

“They wanted to do another grafting class, and Yossi and Kuulei are super crazy about mangos, so they’re like, ‘Let’s have another grafting class, and hey, do you want to do a mango festival around the grafting class,’” Kelekoma said.

From there, the seed was planted, and in 2010, the first Mango Festival was held at the Waipa Foundation.

“It was super low key, and I think we had about 200 people show up — we didn’t do any advertising and it was the first time that we did an event,” Kelekoma said. “We invited a couple of our farmers … and we had a few food vendors or two in the class who did the food demonstrations.”

In the years since then, Kelekoma estimates the August festival routinely attracts about 1,400 people.

The festival, he said, took on another life of its own last year, when the organization canceled its Waipa Music Festival because of inclement weather and combined it with the Mango Festival.

“We decided to combine it because we were kind of on a roll, so we just renamed it the Waipa Music and Mango Festival,” Kelekoma said. “From there, it stuck — it caught on with people. It’s a great combination.”

This year, the festival will feature live musical performances from Mike Keale, Na Pali, the Waipa Serenaders, Anahola native Kainani Kahaunaele and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musician Jon Osorio from Oahu.

Food demonstrations will also feature chefs from several Kauai restaurants, including Powerhouse Creamery, Hanalei Pasta and Black Dog Farms.

A traditional recipe contest will also be held in four categories: dessert, entrée, pickled mango, and jams and jelly.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $1 for keiki between 3 to 18 years old.

Info: or 826-9969.


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