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Thousands Attend 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival

February 4, 2019, 9:29 AM HST (Updated February 5, 2019, 11:18 AM)
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The annual burst of pink and fuchsia along Church Row during the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival attracted thousands of attendees on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2109.

Big Island bee collects pollen from a cherry blossom during the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

Held traditionally on the first Saturday of February, the annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival includes a variety of activities at multiple venues throughout Waimea town.

Cherry blossom buds beginning to bloom during the cherry blossom during the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard

The event features an all-day lineup of Japanese and multi-cultural performing arts, hands-on demonstrations of bonsai and origami, a traditional tea ceremony, mochi pounding, craft fairs, a quilt show and food booths.

Kikuko Kibe instructs the Japanese art form of paper folding, origami at the Hongwanji Mission building during the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

The colorful Chinese Lion Dancers, the centuries-old tradition essential to New Year’s festivities in Hawai‘i, incorporated acrobatic feats and leaps, and interaction with the audience as they proceeded through the crowd down historic Church Row.

Keiki feeds lion during performance by the Chinese Lion Dancers from the Majestic Culture and the Arts Association in Honolulu performing at the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

Attendees took turns feeding the lions for good luck in the new year during the performance by the Majestic Culture and the Arts Association in Honolulu at the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

Participants young and old “fed” the lions small donations to bring good fortune in the year ahead.

Waimea Cherry Festival. PC: Emi Harase

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“We are happy and proud to welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world, who come to take part in the Festival’s cultural presentations, entertainment, crafts, food and exhibits,” said Mayor Harry Kim. “We extend a special welcome to the many visitors of Japan, who actively participate in this splendid event.”

Bonsai display, demonstrations and sales by Waimea Bon-yu Kai Bonsai Club at the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

The tradition of hanami dates back to seventh-century Japan, celebrates the first cherry blossoms of spring. The word “hanami,” comprised of hana, meaning flower, and mi meaning look, is the Japanese word for cherry blossom viewing party.

Waimea Cherry Festival. PC: Emi Harase

The first cherry trees date back to 1912. The Waimea Lions Club inaugurated the festival in 1994.

Big Island residents and visitors snapped photographs with the beloved blossoms during the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

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The cherry trees bloom following cooler temperatures during winter, often after snow on Maunakea.

Okinawa blue dog waiting to perform at the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

The 2019 festival featured Waimea artist Ilmar Reinvald. Reinvald’s oil painting “Kamuela Hongwanji in Springtime” is featured on this year’s official collector’s poster.

Train Engineer, Clearance Yee driving, the Kohala Mountain Express, a trackless barrel train, for small children during the 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard.

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation, Cultural Education Section was the primary sponsor of this year’s festival, in addition to a large volunteer planning committee.

The 26th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, Feb. 2, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

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