Waipa festival to highlight taro, poi

WAIPA — Celebrate all things taro at the seventh annual Waipa Kalo Festival, happening next weekend at Halulu Fishpond.

The event runs from 11 am. to 5 p.m. next Sunday and boasts vendors promoting dishes based on kalo and poi, recipe contests, largest kalo contest, cooking demonstrations and live musical entertainment.

Lee Anne Wong, author and chef who has competed on television shows such as “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef,” is among the judges for the recipe contest.

“This will be her second kalo festival; she was here in 2014 and her first visit to Kauai was for the Waipa Kalo Festival,” said Kalen Kelekoma, the event coordinator. “She makes poi and she’s into that.”

There’s a chance Wong will be bringing a few copies of her book, “All Day Wong,” for signing as she did in 2014, but she’ll definitely be doing a cooking demonstration for the festival.

The recipe contest has two categories: a desert category and a category for appetizers and entrees, and it’s open to anyone.

“Right now, we’re at about 12-15 people who are set for the recipe contest,” Kelekoma said.

Also demonstrating the art of using kalo will be Jerry Konanui, from the Taro Taskforce.

“He’s one of the experts in the state on kalo and he comes out every year for our festival,” Kelekoma said. “So besides how to make your own poi the traditional way, they’ll show people how to cook taro and taro leaves, and make some easy recipes like stir-fry.”

Entertainment for the afternoon includes Carlos and Poncho of Na Pali, Shilo Pa and Acoustic Mana, Lady Ipo and Friends, Hanai Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai and Walt Keale.

Live hula dancing is also on tap for the afternoon. Other activities include a waterslide, silent auction and rummage sale.

Education is the other component of the kalo festival, which highlights the history of the taro plant and how it is used.

Waipa is located half a mile past Hanalei. Entrance fee for the event, which is a fundraiser for the Waipa Foundation, is $5 for adults and $1 for keiki under 18.

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