38th Annual Hawaiʻi Kūpuna Hula Festival Canceled

By Tiffany DeMasters
June 2, 2022, 7:33 AM HST
* Updated June 2, 1:40 PM
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Kūpuna Hula 2019. (PC: Hawai’i County)

The 38th Annual Hawaiʻi Kūpuna Hula Festival has been canceled due to a lack of hālau being able to participate.

This will be the third year in a row the competition has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, 25 hālau participate in the event. Parks and Rec Director Maurice Messina said on six groups said they planned on attending.

The festival typically encompasses a fellowship, a craft fair and two evenings of solo and group competitions, followed by a hoʻolaulea.

The festival was initially scheduled for Sept. 7-8 at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. The competition showcases hula dancers, ages 55 and over, from across Hawai‘i, the mainland and Japan. Messina said there is hesitancy to travel right now as the kupuna are one of the most vulnerable groups.

The event usually costs $38,000, which Messina says the county makes back in ticket sales.


“It’s just not fiscally responsible at this time to have Kūpuna Hula this year, and our team is going to work hard to have Kūpuna Hula come back better than ever next year,” Messina said.


The annual event has been rescheduled for Sept. 13-14, 2023. For more information, call the Elderly Recreation Services office in Hilo at 808-961-8710 or in Kona at 808-323-4340.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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