Kalo to Highlight June Festival in Waipi’o

May 17, 2016, 2:45 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 5:38 PM
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Photo by Evan Bordessa for Hā Ola O Waipio Valley.

Photo by Evan Bordessa for Hā Ola O Waipio Valley.

On Saturday, June 4, the first annual Waipi’o Kalo Festival will take place at Koa’ekea, near the Waipi’o Lookout.

Hā Ola O Waipi‘o Valley, a grassroots non-profit group, is presenting the free festival to the public. The event is a tribute to kalo, Waipi’o, and the kupuna and others who live, work, and find inspiration in the area.

The Kalo Festival is designed to be educational as well as entertaining, and will include live music and hula, craft vendors, games, and food. In addition, there will be displays and talk story sessions about the region’s rich history and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

Kalo, a central aspect of the Hawaiian culture, is considered to be the “older brother” of all Hawaiians.

Legends say that a child named Hāloa was born to deities Wakea and Ho‘ohōkūkalani. Hāloa died at birth and was buried in the garden. Where he was buried, kalo plants began to grown. Their next child was named Hāloa in his honor, and to forever acknowledge the familial tie between people and nature.


Waipi‘o was home to many deities and notable ali‘i, and at its peak, the thriving agricultural community may have supported a population as high as 10,000 people. Waipi‘o is also a storied wahi pana, or sacred place, site of seven important heiau, including  Pāka‘alana, a pu‘uhonua, “place of refuge.”


Event organizers say that every aspect of the Kalo Festival is connected to the Valley in some way.

Hands-on ku‘i kalo will give festival-goers a feel for the art of poi pounding and other cultural activities, like lei-making and lau hala and lau niu weaving.

Attendees are also invited to enter the Taro Team Relay, a fun obstacle course with a simulation of a typical taro farmer’s jobs.


Agricultural exhibits and demonstrations will offer a chance to learn about varieties of kalo and how they are cultivated, its preparation as food, and nutritional/health benefits.

The USDA, DLNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Hawai’i Education and Research Center, and others will cover a broad range of related topics, from healthy soils to agro-forestry, the importance of water, and more.

A Kalo cookoff offers prizes to home chefs who bring their best kalo pupu, main dish, or dessert for a friendly competition with prizes. Any part of the kalo plant may be used in the dish.

To enter the cookoff, bring at least five portions for judges to taste. Kalo must be an ingredient. Kalo contest winners will be announced after the relay, and will receive a Makana basket and a gift certificate.

In addition, homestyle Hawaiian plate lunches will be available for sale, with kalua pig, laulau, squid lū‘au, chicken long rice, sweet potatoes, fernshoot salad, haupia, kulolo, poke, and of course, poi.

Event parking will be available at Kukuihaele Park, with free shuttles provided. No parking is available at the Lookout.

The schedule for the day includes:

9 a.m.  Gate opens. Opening Pule and Oli at 9:05 a.m.

9:10 a.m.  Hālau Na Lei Punahele, Kumu Hula Punahele Andrade

10 a.m.  Larry Miller and Jeff Quinn

10:50 a.m. Hālau Kou Lima Nani E, Kumu Hula Iwalani Kalima

11:50 a.m.  Sons of Keawe

1-1:50 p.m.  Kalo Team Relay/Kalo Cookoff

2 p.m.  Rubbah Slippah Productions, Ryan Hiraoka

2:50 p.m.  Masoe ‘Ohana

3:50 p.m.  Closing Pule and Hawai‘i Aloha

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