Arts, crafts fairs a delight for senses
The sweet scent of hundreds of flowers, the sound of Hawaiian songs and the commingling of hundreds of shoppers’ voices filled the air this week during the Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair at Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium and Butler Building.
“My breath got taken away by a piece of Hawaiian art,” said Cynthia Massa, a retired school counselor and educator of Hilo.
The art she saw was a Leohone ocean journey painting.
Vendor Carmen Malunau said the invitational “is very Hawaiian.”
“This is a special Hawaiian celebration; a lot of joy and I think this is when Hilo really wakes up — friends you don’t see for years, flowers smell, things you never see for sale — just beautiful,” she said. Malunau was helping her friend, Milan Chun, owner of Martha’s Lei Stand at Honolulu International Airport.
Stella Pimental of Kauai works long days as a vendor during the arts fair. She sells intricately designed lei made from materials such as orchids, sea grapes and fruit from the lauhala tree.
At the end of each day, she returns to her hotel room to work feverishly until late — making more lei for the next day.
But Stell, as friends call her, loves the event.
“It’s a great cultural thing,” she said. Pimental, retired from the flower business, gets to visit her auntie, brother and brother’s family.
“Besides coming to an awesome, cultural event like this, we get to share our talents with the vendors and the visitors,” she said. It’s a time of camaraderie and learning from one another.
Meanwhile at Nani Mau Gardens, artist Keoki Johnson is selling his Molokai-made creations this week during the Hawaii Arts, Crafts & Food Festival.
It’s his first time at the arts, craft and food event, which moved to Nani Mau this year from Sangha Hall. He brought along intricate, hand-crafted “wearable art” such as spirit animals and shields of protection.
Keith and Debra Feilzer, visiting the Big Island from Oregon, saw a sign for the Nani Mau festival on their way to Hilo for a helicopter ride to view the lava entry into the ocean.
They decided to stop in were drawn to photographs of birds of Hawaii captured by Raymond W. Lara of Hilo.
“We like the pictures of birds that you never see sitting still,” Debra Feilzer said.
Lara said afterward that the birds he photographs definitely “don’t sit still — it’s like they’re always flitting away. You might get like 500, 600, 700 exposures and if you come away with two or three, you’re doing good.”
He made a donation to an endowment handled by the Hawaii Community Foundation for the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and wanted to do more. That led him to begin framing his photos and selling them during retirement so he can keep making donations.
“I always wanted to take pictures of Hawaii natural birds. But I never did,” he said. Now, he focuses his time on changing that.
Terry Panee of Oahu said his daughter, Titaina, a vendor, was practicing for a hula performance. So, he filled in during the afternoon, selling her handmade Lauhala Jewelry (www.lauhalalove.etsy.com) from the leaves of pandanus tree.
“She uses this as a way to channel her creative talents,” Panee said.
The largest earrings she offers all have names because they’re each named after the friend she first designed a pair of pandanus-leaf earrings for.
The craft festivals continue through Saturday.
Leave your car. Take your bestie. Prepare for sensory overload.
Owner Kehau Reis, center, and Kanani Carmichael, right, of Hooked Up Hawaii talk with customers about jewelry sizing Thursday during the 24th annual Hawaii Arts, Crafts & Food Festival at Nani Mau Gardens.