Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

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Cherry trees in bloom for the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Feb.4. Photo by Fern Gavelek

As Church Row begins its seasonal explosion of pink and fuschia, Waimea prepares for the 24th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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

Activities take place all over town, accessible by a free shuttle provided by Roberts Hawai‘i.

And, as visitors enjoy the experience of viewing the colorful trees, they can also savor chef specialties at the Kamuela Hongwanji from some of the island’s best restaurants.

Seven different chefs will demonstrate their individual culinary skills with tastings for the audience from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Tastings will be offered by Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel; Sushi Shiono in Island Gourmet Markets at Queens’ MarketPlace; Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company in Kawaihae; Mai Grille at Waikoloa Kings’ Golf Course; Sansei Seafood, Steak and Sushi Bar; and the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, featuring sister-city property Tokyo Marriott.

“This is the most delicious part of the festival,” said volunteer organizer Margo Mau Bunnell. “Not only do the chefs love cooking for people, they really enjoy teaching and showing their style. It’s a great way to get these talented upcoming chefs out of the kitchen and interacting with their customers and fans.”

In addition to the chef demonstrations, the entertainment lineup rounds out the festivities at Church Row, with Master of Ceremonies G.Cruz of KWXX radio.

Food Demonstrations Schedule at Kamuela Hongwanji

9 a.m.: Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Executive Chef Peter Abarcar Jr.


9:45 a.m.: Sushi Shiono at Island Gourmet Markets, Chef Naoto Yamagishi

10:30 a.m.: Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, Kawaihae, featuring Duane Puhi

11 a.m.: Mai Grille, Waikoloa Beach Golf Course, Owner/Chef Allen Hess

11:45 a.m.: Sansei Seafood, Steak & Sushi Bar, Queens’ MarketPlace, Chef Shane Torres

12:30 p.m.: Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Tokyo Marriott, Executive Chef Jayson Kanekoa and Executive Sous Chef Takashi Ogawa


Entertainment at Church Row

10 a.m.: Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko

10:30 a.m.: Music of the koto, Japanese stringed instrument, by Darin Miyashiro

11 a.m.: Performance by the Hawaii Lion Dance Association

12:30 p.m.: Taiko drumming by Ryukyukoku Daiko, Okinawan style

For information, call (808) 961-8706.

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