What is the Maui Sunday Market?
The Maui Sunday Market is held each Sunday from 4 pm – 8 pm, in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center. The event features island vendors (crafters, artisans, food purveyors, and more); entertainment; food trucks; and Hawaiian cultural activities. Public admission and parking is free.
The Maui Sunday Market is presented by the Maui Food Technology Center and is sponsored by the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Maui Sunday Market continues to attract a diverse audience – cruise ship passengers visitors from around the island, and local residents. It has become a popular venue to congregate, shop, eat, and be entertained by local musicians. It also offers an educational component through Hawaiian cultural activities such as poi pounding, hula lessons, and education on indigenous, endemic and Polynesian-introduced plants.
Why was the Maui Sunday Market created?
According to Kau‘i Kahaiali‘i, the event’s coordinator and co-originator of the event along with Luana Mahi, president of the Maui Food Technology Center, “The Maui Sunday Market really came about from our desire to help stimulate and revitalize the community of Kahului. We saw events happening all around the island. But in Kahului, weekly community events, especially in the evening, was a rarity. With the Maui Sunday Market, we wanted to create an event where the community and our visitors could gather each week, engage with each other, share stories, and experience the diversity of Hawai‘i and the aloha spirit.”
Luana also shared, “Kahului Shopping Center close proximity to the cruise ship that docks at the harbor earlier in the day also provides a valuable opportunity to reach these passengers, as well as those who arrive by plane. Often visitors crave an authentic island experience and our Market’s offering of local foods, entertainment and vendor products really resonates with this audience.”
What makes the Maui Sunday Market unique?
“One of our goals with the Maui Sunday Market is to create a sense of place – a place where we all can be free to express ourselves, share some poi or break bread. (LOL) And, be comfortable enough to absorb each other’s genuine aloha spirit amidst an informal venue,” said Kau‘i.
Those who participate and attend the Market often share about the event’s warm, casual laid back atmosphere. In true Hawaiian time fashion, the crowd typically comes out around 5:30 pm (the event starts at 4 pm), and they hang out to talk, eat and socialize even after the event’s “published” ending time of 8 pm. Residents get to hang loose (they even bring their own chairs) and are delighted to see people they haven’t seen for a while – including their own neighbors and family members. Visitors get to talk story with residents, buy products from local vendors, and enjoy a myriad of island-inspired cuisine from over 10 food trucks. And, it’s not surprising to see some of the event’s entertainers like George Kahumoku and the Kahaiali‘i brothers (Kau‘i and Kamaunu) invite impromptu family and friends to perform with them. It’s always a treat to see who is entertaining each Sunday. Kau‘i also makes it point to walk around the Kahului Shopping Center parking lot, where the event is held, with his cordless microphone to talk one-on-one with event attendees. Everyone is made to feel at home further strengthening the event’s sense of ‘ohana.
Little wonder that there is a waiting list for vendors wanting to participate and why the Maui Sunday Market is well under way to becoming a weekly tradition for residents and visitors island-wide.
About the Maui Food Technology Center (MFTC):
MFTC is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. We encourage, train and incubate a wide range of local residents, students, entrepreneurs and embryonic agribusinesses seeking to earn a meaningful living from agriculture and value-added food production including culinary arts, food science and food technology.
Entrepreneurs from Maui and throughout the Hawaiian Islands are increasingly responding to a significant and growing demand for local produce and quality food products, as well as demand from local residents who are otherwise paying significant import premiums for a large percentage of their household food products. As a result, those activities have gained renewed attention from public and private sector partners working to grow Hawaii’s diversified agriculture and value-added food sectors.
MFTC provides business incubation services and education to assist local food entrepreneurs in succeeding in the agriculture and food product industries. MFTC provides both technical and business consultations for existing and emerging food-related businesses. Most of its clients are start-ups or very small businesses that have little knowledge of what it takes to run a business, understand manufacturing, where to purchase ingredients and supplies, pricing or marketing their products.
The weekly Maui Sunday Market shines the spotlight on Maui’s hardworking entrepreneurs in an effort to grow their businesses.
Adam Tabura, Celebrity chef and entrepreneur, talks story with Maui Sunday Market vendor Mario Siatris of Maui Grown 808, LLP. According to Tabura, “The event’s coconut wireless is growing. People are hearing there’s something happening on a Sunday evening in Kahului. It’s particularly exciting for visitors who come to the Market. They’re walking around; being entertained; getting their first taste of street food, local food; and experiencing the real attitude of Hawaii culture. At the Market, people are selling their chili pepper water, lauhala hats and coconut weave hats, clothes, jewelry and other local products. These are things guests will be able to take home with them like omiyage.”
Jerry Lauther, Co-Owner of Big Beach BBQ, shared, “We’ve participated in the Maui Sunday Market since its inception and have watched this event grow each week. I think the event’s blend of product vendors and food trucks really attracts a lot of people. It’s also kid friendly and offers a diversity of activities which visitors and locals really appreciate.
The Kahaiali‘i brothers Kau‘i (far left) and Kamaunu (far right) perform with George Kahumoku during a Maui Sunday Market.
First-time Maui visitors Megan and Daniel Murphree visit with Maui Sunday Market vendor Juan Estrada Romero of Hawaii Made Products. The Murphree’s shared, “We think this event is wonderful. We’re finding a lot of authentic gifts that we can bring back home to family. It’s not the typical gift shop souvenirs so that’s very unique. People here are also warm and friendly. You can just feel the love on this island.”
Robert Hajek of San Francisco gets a sampling of Sunbucha Kombucha from owner Sonni Dawkins. Hajek referred to the Maui Sunday Market as “vibrant.”
Check out their Facebook page  for details on the weekly offerings and happenings.