Annual Taro Festival Celebrates the Starchy Tuber

April 30, 2014, 2:15 PM HST · Updated April 30, 2:29 PM
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By Vanessa Wolf

Celebrate the taro plant at the 22nd Annual East Maui Taro Festival in Hana this weekend.

Celebrate the taro plant at the 22nd Annual East Maui Taro Festival in Hana this weekend. Courtesy image.

If sweet Maui onions aren’t your thing, maybe you’d prefer to show some love to the Hawaiian root vegetable staple that is taro.

Also known as the dasheen, eddo or kalo and found in the cuisines of West Africa, Asia, Central America, South America and the Caribbean – as well as, of course, the Polynesian islands – the taro root is enjoying its 22nd year in the spotlight.

Best recognized as the one and only ingredient in poi, celebrate all things starchy tuber beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.

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The all-day East Maui Taro Festival is held at the Hana Ballpark and lasts until 5 p.m.

The event features Hawaiian entertainment and hula as follows:

  • 9:30-10:15 a.m. – Cosma Sisters
  • 10:15-11 a.m. – Joel Katz
  • 11-11:45 a.m. – Keoni Darisay
  • 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Pat Simmons Jr.
  • 12:30-1:15 p.m. – Hulu Lindsay
  • 1:15-2:15 p.m. – Abrigo Ohana
  • 2:15 – 3 p.m. – James “Kimo” West
  • 3 – 4  p.m. – Hālau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai, Kumu Hula Kēhaulani Kekua
  • 4 – 5 p.m. – CJ, Boise and Leokane

Attendees can also anticipate 20 food booths, 40 arts  and crafts booths, an agriculture tent, farmers market and hands-on cultural demos such as poi-pounding, kapa cloth making, creating Hawaiian musical instruments, and lauhala weaving.

Short on cash? Minus the food and craft booth wares, the event is free to the public.

Better yet, on Sunday, May 4, partake in a (free as far as we can determine) taro pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Hana Bay.

Then, work off some of those carbs at 11 a.m. with a complementary Kahanu Garden tour, as well a free Kapahu Living Farm Lo’i excursion.

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