Thousands Attend 2019 Cherry Blossom FestivalFebruary 4, 2019, 9:29 AM HST (Updated February 5, 2019, 11:18 AM)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Participants young and old “fed” the lions small donations to bring good fortune in the year ahead.
“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.”
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.
The first cherry trees date back to 1912. The Waimea Lions Club inaugurated the festival in 1994.
The cherry trees bloom following cooler temperatures during winter, often after snow on Maunakea.
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.
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.