It Begins: Merrie Monarch Festival 2012
by Kristin Hashimoto
Every year this sold out event draws thousands of people to the Edith Kanakaʻole Tennis Stadium for a week of hula competition and connection to native culture.
Hoʻike night on April 11 is the only dance night available to the public for free. Everyone who can fit inside the stadium can watch and enjoy this non-competitive exhibition of international and local artists and musicians.
The night begins at 6 p.m. Expect to see hordes of people descend upon this space for this extremely popular event. This festival honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, his spirit, and love of the arts. Since 1971, this hula competition has grown from 9 groups of wahine (women) hula halau to include male competitors.
Recommendations for the night: get to the venue early, as people wait in line to vie for good seating. Also, bring a cushion. Metal chairs and stadium style bleacher seating get uncomfortable after that first hour.
Edith Kanakaʻole Tennis Stadium is located at 350 Kalanikoa Street in Hilo.