KAPAA — Anthony and Nathalie Manaois of Rangiroa, Tahiti, were mobbed by visitors who crowded under the tents to avoid the rain at Saturday’s 15th annual Heiva i Kauai at Kapaa Beach Park.
“We have nephews from California who are in the competition,” Anthony said. “This is a nice way to spend our vacation.”
Tepairu Manea, a Tahitian drum maker and wood carver, said the family was just some of the many visitors who attended the event which features solo, group and drumming competition as well as vendors offering craft items, Polynesian gifts and wear, and artisans working on a variety of Hawaiian and Tahitian crafts.
“You can tell how far along I am by what I’m doing,” said Wilma Chandler, wiping down a dried lauhala leaf. “I have a new thing to do on Saturdays. Right now, I’m still in the cleaning and bracelet stage. I have to wipe down the leaf, take off the thorns, and then take out the mid-rib.”
Zayvien Balisacan of Oahu was nursing a blister on his hand after spending countless minutes twirling the fire knife — unlit for safety.
“I just learned how to do this six months ago,” the Oahu youngster said. “I just liked twirling the baton.”
There was no fire knife competition at the Heiva i Kauai. Instead, a new amateur youth category has been added for dancers under 18, or having less than three years of dance experience, said Pat Finberg of the Heiva i Kauai.
John and Monica Oszust, president and president-elect of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, brought their exchange student, Maria Franco Davo of Madrid, Spain, to get a taste of the Tahitian culture and dance.
“She’s already started school in Kapaa,” John Oszust said. “Maria takes the bus from Princeville all the way to school and back. Marli Genegabuas, the Miss Garden Isle Teen USA who will give up her crown Saturday night, will be going to Italy as our exchange student shortly.”
FiripiG, a designer of Tahitian costume and jewelry, moved to Kauai after the 2015 Heiva, but made it a point to be one of the vendors at the Kapaa Beach Park, adding a fashion show element to the competition atmosphere with his elaborate costuming and jewelry.
Heiva i Kauai continues today at the Kapaa Beach Park with gates opening at 10 a.m. for a day of group competition, including aparima and ahupurotu categories, and Tahitian drumming.
The Heiva i Kauai is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Kauai with support from the Kapaa business community.