Celebrating a king’s Waimea connection

WAIMEA — The weeklong Waimea Town Celebration officially began under clear skies and warm sunshine Sunday with the Kaumualii Celebration at Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park.

Following the postponement of Saturday’s regatta due to gusty weather conditions, Sunday’s celebration was the start of a weeklong schedule of events. Highlights include a film festival, the Ambassador of Aloha celebrating Nalani Brun, a hoolaulea which overflows from Friday into Saturday, a rodeo, softball tournament and paniolo hat lei contest.

Sunday’s event also was a chance to draw attention to the king’s Waimea roots.

The site, more commonly known as the Russian Fort, “was blessed and dedicated as a heiau,” said Chris Faye of the Friends of Kaumualii group. “It was a heiau before the Russians came. It was a heiau in the front yard of Kaumualii, whose house was located across Kaumualii Highway.”

The Friends of Kaumualii is working to spread awareness of the high chief while trying to raise money for a 7-foot bronze statue gifted to Kauai by the artist, said Faye. “Kaumualii was a big man,” she said.

Faye said the Russians were the architects for Fort Elizabeth. “But it was a heiau and instead of kii, cannons lined the walls providing the people with a spiritual and physical protection,” Faye said.

The story intrigued Keikilani Lindsey, an entertainer from Kona, and his son Leo, who were waiting for their turn on stage.

“Hmm, a heiau to the god of war?” Lindsey said. “I’m going to have to check it out after my presentation.”

Mary Lardizabal, the director of the Kapaa Middle School ukulele band and chorus, said she came to listen to the Big Island entertainer.

“I usually never have a chance to get out to this part of the island,” Lardizabal said. “But when I found out through social media that Keikilani was going to be here, I had to find out about this event so I could come.”

For more information, go to www.waimeatown-celebration.com


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