Lifestyle

Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival Draws Huge Crowd

February 3, 2018, 6:26 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 4:07 PM
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The annual explosion of pink and fuchsia along Church Row during the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival attracted thousands of attendees on Feb. 3, 2108, marking its silver anniversary.

Held traditionally the first Saturday of February, the annual 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 took place all over town, accessible by a free shuttle provided by Roberts Hawai‘i.

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

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

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Tastings were 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.

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“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.

Cherry blossom on a Waimea cherry tree during the 25th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, , Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Cherry Blossom Festival food vendors Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Ke Ola Mau Loa Church, established in 1931, on Church Row in Waimea, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Traditional mochi pounding at Parker Ranch Center during the 25th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Craft fair at Parker Ranch Center during the 25th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Planting veggies at the Blue Zones booth at the 2018 Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Beautiful Waimea cherry tree at the 25th Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Big Island residents and visitors on Church Row at the 25th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

Children enjoying train rides on the new Disney themed keiki train at the 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival, Feb. 3. PC: Crystal Richard

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