Getting a ‘Taste’ for helping

WAILUA — The Taste of Hawaii was the perfect ending to a birthday/wedding package, Andrea Turner said on Sunday.

“We’ve been attending the Taste of Hawaii for the past six years as part of my birthday weekend,” the Kauai resident said. “Saturday was my birthday and I participated in the annual Haena to Hanalei Run. I always do that for my birthday. This year, we got bungalows at the Aston Aloha Beach Resort, got married this morning at Lydgate Park, and now we can eat and drink without worrying about driving because we’re right across the street. This is the perfect ending to a birthday weekend, and now he can’t forget our anniversary.”

The Turners, resplendent in wedding attire, were part of a crowd which swelled beyond the expectations of the event’s sponsor, the Rotary Club of Kapaa. Throngs of people filled Smith’s Tropical Paradise, sampling food and drink offerings from more than 40 vendors from around the state, and enjoying live music from stages scattered throughout the grounds.

“I’m one of the Angels,” said Karen Matsumoto of Heartflame Kitchen, one of the Taste of Hawaii vendors. “I was recipient of one of the scholarships presented by Aloha Angels and the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay.”

Matsumoto stopped to visit Christina Zimmerman, Ric Cox, Jonathan McRoberts and Mary Paterson who were manning the Rotary Club booth with information on some of the youth programs.

Proceeds generated by the Taste of Hawaii go toward providing scholarships for college-bound high school graduates on Kauai as well as a number of youth service programs. Those programs include donating dictionaries to third-grade students at Kapaa and King Kaumualii elementary school and Kanuikapono Charter School; supporting the Interact Club of Kapaa High School; supporting the Dolphin Club, an after- school program at Kapaa Elementary; and others.

For the 2015-16 school year, the Rotary Club of Kapaa is supporting the Adopt a Class program developed by Aloha Angels.

Other educational initiatives which benefit from the Taste of Hawaii include the Rotary Club of Kapaa helping the Kanuikapono Charter School to raise $10,000 for its food sustainability programs, and a $25,000 contribution to Junior Achievement Kauai to bring financial literacy to many Kauai students at all grade levels.

“This is my last day with Jamba Juice,” said Mark Bonilla, who was distributing Tropical Dragon Smoothies. “Tomorrow, I’m flying to Oahu to start training with Jack in the Box (for their Kauai store).”

Rotarian Neva Olson said customer Graeme Merrin has been attending the Taste of Hawaii every one of its 27 years, and Carol Kahn donned her special hat which she wears to each year’s event.

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