Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taste Ka‘u Coffee, Meet Local Farmers and Be Serenaded

Join in the festivities on Friday, April 27, at the Pahala Plantation House - formerly the Ka‘u Sugar Plantation Managers Mansion - for free music, hula, light pupu (appetizers) and coffee. Attendees are welcome to tour the historic home. 
     Admission is free with donations accepted for the Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship fund. As such, the event features a presentation of the newly crowned Miss Ka‘u Court of 2018 who will reign over the upcoming festival. Enjoy local foods and taste Ka‘u coffee as you meet local coffee farmers, many of whom are award winners.
     This official Ka‘u Coffee Festival event, offered annually since 2014, is co-sponsored by Ka‘u Coffee Growers Cooperative, Pahala Plantation Cottages, and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. 
     More details regarding The Plantation House can be found at
     For more information about the event, contact Julia Neal at or call (808) 928-9811.
Photos by Julia Neal from prior events.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

10th Annual Ho‘olaule‘a: A Festival Celebrating Ka‘u Coffee

Join us, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday, May 5, for our main event, Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, and this years we celebrate it's 10th anniversary!
     Supported by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and a host of community sponsors and volunteers, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival is designed to celebrate Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin and a unique visitor destination. Our festival features the exceptional flavor and aroma of Ka‘u coffee and the remarkable people and special place that produces it.
     Founded in coffee traditions dating to the 1800s—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.
     During our Ho‘olaule‘a, we offer free entry to all. A full day of live music, hula, local food and crafts, keiki activities, and educational displays. Tour the many vendor booths, "talk story," with Ka‘u coffee growers and get to know the community. From 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., enjoy free guided coffee tastings with a large selection of Ka‘u coffees prepared using a variety of methods by professional baristas. Coffee farm tours with shuttle transport from festival are available, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $20 per person.
     Our 2018 Entertainment Line-Up for the Ho‘olaule‘a, with Ho‘aikāne headlining, includes: Emcee Makana Kamahele, Hands of Time, Hannah's Makana ‘Ohana Halau with Joe Ooka, Shootz, Halau Hula O Leonalani with Debbie Ryder, Keaiwa & Demetrius, El Leo, The Jarican Express, The Lucky Lizard Band, Back Yahd Boyz and Christy Leina‘ala Lassiter.

Interested in Hosting A Booth At Our Main Event?

     Those interested in becoming vendors for the 2018 Ho‘olaule‘a are welcome to sign-up until Friday, April 27.
     Booth fees are $100 for food vendors; $60 for non-food items and crafts, including coffee and coffee samples; and $35 for pre-approved information displays. Campaign and other political displays are not invited. Fifty percent discounts are provided to bona fide non-profit organizations and cooperatives and their members. In addition to Kaʻu Coffee Festival fees, each vendor is responsible for a Department of Health permit, if serving food. Call Gail Nagata at 933-0918.
     In addition, vendors must obtain county vendor permits costing $30 each, to be displayed at each booth during the Hoʻolaulea.
     Vendor and display booths are the responsibility of sponsors who provide their own tents, up to 10'x10', as well as tables, chairs, signs, and all other equipment. Hot food must be served under metal roofs that Kaʻu Coffee Festival provides. There is no electricity available. Generators are allowed.
     Set up before 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, day of Hoʻolaule‘a, and be ready to serve the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No smoking, drugs, alcohol, propaganda, political speech, or activism allowed.
     Kaʻu Coffee Festival is a Green Event. All vendors are encouraged to use biodegradable products whenever possible.
     Deadline to apply is Friday, April 27, 2018. First come, first served. Find application at Mail to Brenda Iokepa-Moses, P.O. Box 208, Pahala, HI 96777, email, or call 808-731-5409.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival sponsorship opportunities are available, call 808-929-9550. For more information and festival updates, visit or follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter and Instagram.

For a list of our other 2018 events, see our website at

Monday, March 26, 2018

Joining Young Women in Performance, Fashion, Poise and Knowledge

Join us for the first event of the 10th Annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Saturday, April 21, at the Ka‘u District Gym, as Miss Ka‘u Coffee 2017, Jami Beck, passes the torch to the new 2018 Miss Ka‘u Coffee queen. The pageant starts at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets, $10 per person, are available through contestants and at the door. 
     The following four young women will compete for the title of Miss Ka‘u Coffee (2018-2019): Reishalyn Kekoa Jara, 16, Karlee Fukunaga-Camba, 16, Helena Nihipali-Sesson, 16, and Sheri Lynn Freitas, 18. Two 12 year old girls will compete for the title of Ka‘u Coffee Junior Miss; Jacie Umemoto and Cristina Kawewehi. Jadelyn Kekoa Jara, 10, and Tenielle Blanco, 8, compete for the title of Miss Ka‘u Peaberry. Three young girls compete for the title of Miss Ka‘u Coffee Flower: Kysha Manini-Kaupu, 3, Telia Espejo-Navarro, 5, and Lilianna Marques, 5.
     Talents of the contenders range from hula and Tahitian dance to ʻukulele and singing, with costumes ranging from Polynesian to urban.
     Each contestant will display their talents, intelligence and grace in the three main categories: Talent, Speech, and Evening Wear. Contestants will also participate in Miss Popularity, Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic contests. The pageant, directed by Ali‘i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee grower Trini Marques with Scholarship Chair Julia Neal, joins young women in performance, fashion, poise and knowledge to celebrate the Ka'u Coffee industry. It also raises scholarship money for the young women and girls. Miss Ka‘ū Coffee will represent the industry at public events throughout the year, with funding sponsored by the Edmund C. Olson Trust II.
     All contestants must have either been born, have grown up, or now live in Ka‘u. Winners receive scholarships, trophies and crowns.
     Leading up to the contest, the contenders will travel to orchards, mills, and markets to learn about coffee farming, processing, roasting and sales. They visit small Kaʻu coffee farmers, who have spent more than 20 years - since the sugar plantation shut down - to develop a new crop and penetrate major markets worldwide. On April 7, the contestants travelled to Hilo to represent Ka‘u in the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Parade.
     Scholarship sponsors are: Edmund C. Olson Trust, Kaʻu Mahi, Kaʻu Valley Farms, CU Hawaiʻi Federal Credit Union, Punaluʻu BakeShop, Pacific Quest, Kaʻu Local Products, Sen. Russell Ruderman, Sen. Josh Green, Rep. Richard Creagan, and Council member Maile David.

2018 Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant Judges:
  • 2010 Miss Ka‘u Coffee Ulu Makuakane, a kumu hula, Ka‘u Hawaiian Homes Association member, and employee of Punalu‘u Bake Shop. 
  • 2016 Miss Ka‘u Coffee Rochelle Koi, a University of Hawai‘i-Hilo student working on a degree in Early Childhood Education, and a ranger at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. 
  • Shara Ahia Kalanikuamaieiwilanie Keawe-Ako Dancel, a mental health therapist, director of a Tahitian dance studio and great-granddaughter of famed Hawaiian singer Genoa Keawa. She has deep family roots and is a graduate of schools here. 
  • MacKenzie Franklin, a singer and Special Education teacher at Ka‘u High & Pahala Elementary School. 
     Sound will be provided by Calvin Ponce and lighting by Volcano Lights. Many volunteers come together to decorate the venues with flowers donated by growers, and many farmers come together to present trophies to the contestants. Anyone wanting to volunteer on pageant night, call Trini Marques at 808-928-0606, email, or Facebook Trinidad Marques. To donate for scholarships, call Scholarship Chair Julia Neal at 808-928-9811 or email 
     For a complete list of upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival Events, visit

Photos by Pamela Taylor, Julia Neal and Trinidad Marques.