Arts, crafts fairs a de­light for senses

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - LOCAL - By JEFF HANSEL Reach Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawai­itri­bune­herald.com.

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.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

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.

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