No tears at onion festival

WAIMEA — Mansfield Oyamot missed the deadline for Saturday’s sweet onion festival hosted by Basilio “Bunga” Fuertes at the Hofgaard Park.

“I was out on the North Shore,” Oyamot said, looking over his white sweet onions, which appeared to be giants. “The deadline was 4:30 Friday afternoon, and I just couldn’t make it back in time.”

Oyamot may have missed the judging for his onions, but he didn’t go home disappointed. His guess for the “Guess the Weight of the Pig” contest was spot-on, so he went home with the 42-pound piglet donated by Val Kaneshiro of Kaneshiro Hog Farm.

Oyamot’s absence from the judging opened the window for Rudy Sina, whose white onion was judged a blue ribbon winner.

“The Lihue dirt is better,” Sina said. “I knew that.”

Red ribbon honors for the white variety went to Randy Lee whose onions were grown “up the valley,” and third place honors went to Donald Nitta.

Scott Hardwick topped the red variety judging followed by Sakiko Okihara and Glenda Tamashiro.

Fuertes said the contest was a result of people who came for the free onion seedling giveaway earlier in the year wanting some way to compare the onions they planted. The short-season crop matured starting at the end of March.

“We had people from Syngenta Hawaii here to do the judging,” Fuertes said. “The pickled onion judging was done by a team from Ishihara Market.”

The pickled onion judging was broken into two classes — white and red varieties, said Florence Acain.

Yoneko Honjo may not have won the top honor, but won in both categories: a third place for her namasu in the white onion, and a second place in the red onion category with her li hing pickled onion.

Top honors in the white onion category went to Alice Brown, and the blue ribbon in the red category belonged to Terrence Saito.

Naoko Ho took the red ribbon in the white category with her pickled onion with ogo, a local seaweed; and Sakiko Okihara finished with the third place honor in the red category.

“I only got an ‘honorable mention,’” said Sadie Doi. “But I gave myself an A-plus, so that’s OK.”

Customers and shoppers had an opportunity to pick up freshly grown onions and other related items as a fundraiser for the Waimea Senior Center, Fuertes said.

“I’m glad I saw this and stopped,” said Urseline Munar of Kekaha. “This is a good price for the onions.”

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