Merrie Monarch Has Begun!

April 18, 2017, 11:33 AM HST (Updated April 18, 2017, 6:09 PM)


    The 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival kicked off to an amazing start on Sunday, April 16,  with a free day-long ho’olaulea held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

    The day beganf with the traditional pule by Anake (Aunty) Penny Vredenberg, who has emceed the event for over 20 years.

    Then, Na Lei Liko O ‘Ola‘a took to the floor under the direction of Kumu Kimo Kekua, whose students attend Kamehameha School – Kea‘au Campus.

    In the crowd was a special guest from Colorado Springs—the honorary hula dancer of the day along with her ‘ohana. Faith Sullivan’s wish came true when the  the Make-A-Wish Foundation made possible a trip to the Merrie Monarch Festival, where she could experience “real hula.”

    Always a crowd pleaser and able to pack the civic from top to bottom, Halau O Ka Ua Kanelehua, under the direction of Kumu Johnny Lum Ho aka “Uncle Johnny,” did not disappoint. The performance featured some of his hula dancers from hālau in Japan, and well-choreographed dancers ranging from keiki to kūpuna.

    Halau O Kekuhi keiki presented the crowd with a sneak peak into their bombastic hula style, leaving the audience wanting more… They are scheduled to open the free Hoike night on Wednesday, April 19, at the Edith Kanakaole Muti-Purpose stadium.

    The ardent hula fans who made it through the entire day participated in the customart closing ceremony which includes singing Hawai‘i Aloha.


    It’s official—the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival has begun and as always, the world’s biggest Hawaiian cultural hula festival does not disappoint.


    Daily (Monday through Friday)
    Free Mid-day Entertainment
    Entertainment at the Hilo Naniloa Hotel at noon
    Entertainment at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel at 1 p.m.

    Wednesday, April 19, through Friday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair
    An annual favorite, this free event features local artists, crafters, and entertainment.
    Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

    Wednesday, April 19, 6 p.m. 
    Hōʻike Performances
    An exhibition night of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific. The performances are free to the public, no tickets required.
    Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium

    Musicians from Halau O Ka Ua Kanilehua at the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival. Darde Gamayo photo.

    A capacity crowd filled Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium during the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival. Darde Gamayo photo.

    Keiki at the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival. Darde Gamayo photo.

    Dancers entertain a packed crowd at the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival. Darde Gamayo photo.

    Darde Gamayo
    Darde Gamayo wen graduate from Honoka'a High & Intermediate in 1986. Her also known as “Tita Nui,” cause her one tita en her is nui. Her is da winna of da 2009 Ms. Aloha Nui Contess. Which is wat wen help her get her da job on da numba 1 rayjo station on dis island, KAPA Rayjo! Her is da weeken mid day DJ. You can catch her on KAPA from 6 p.m. to midnight Mondayz true Fridayz. Her is one blhog writah fo da Her write bout all kine stuffez, like how da mongoose wen come hea, wat collah da sand on da beach, pineapple in yo food and wat eva kine stuff her tink of. Her get choken udda stuff her like fo do like, write, read, go fishin' and her love to cook too... And wen you look at her you no she like fo eat, too! Her stay livin in Waipi‘o Valley with her honey, Darren, and the rest of their ‘ohana.


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