Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival back Feb. 4 on Big Island
The 30th anniversary of the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is set for Feb. 4 with a full lineup of free, multi-cultural performing arts, hands-on demonstrations, crafters and food booths.
The festival marks the blooming of the historic cherry trees at Church Row Park and celebrates the age-old Japanese tradition of hanami, which translates to “cherry blossom viewing party.” After a seasonal winter chill, the trees typically bloom in early February.
The festival, presented by the county’s department of parks and recreation and community members, will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Look for the new pink banners in Waimea identifying festival venues.
The artwork for the 2023 festival is “Mejiro and Cherry Blossoms” by Kona artist Laurel Oglesby.
The pastel was the winning art among a field of 13 chosen by the festival committee. Depicting a bird locally seen flitting among cherry blossoms, the painting has been reproduced on a limited number of collector posters available for $10 at Waimea Arts Council’s Firehouse Gallery.
Festival activities will be held at various venues stretching through the town’s center. Roberts Hawaiʻi will offer free shuttle service between Parker Ranch Center, Church Row Park and Pukalani Stables.
Parking is available at Parker Ranch Center, the soccer field across Church Row Park and along Pukalani Street.
The free handout, “2023 Festival Activity Lineup,” will be available at all venues to guide festival goers among activities. In addition, a free 2023 Souvenir Program also will be distributed to showcase the many organizations that put on the festival.
A quick rundown of festival activities at various locations follows, with times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. unless specified otherwise. Schedule and times are subject to change. Activities are free unless noted.
Church Row Park — Highway 19
• Historical Cherry Tree Display: Waimea Lions’ Club offers a pictorial history of the cherry trees and serves as the festival’s official Lost and Found station. T-shirt sales.
• Entertainment: Hula, taiko drumming, Chinese lion dance and more 9:30 a.m. to pau.
• Bonsai: The Waimea Bon-yu Kai Bonsai Club offers a display and sale of bonsai, ongoing demonstrations and a clinic to discuss and work on the art of bonsai.
• Cherry Tree/Food Sales at Kamuela Hongwanji: Mission members offer blooming cherry tree branches and tree sales, plus Asian foods: nishime bento, chichi mochi, andagi and chili/rice bowl.
• Cooking Demos at Kamuela Hongwanji: Hawai‘i Island chefs offer cooking demonstrations with free samples on the hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Vegetable/Fruit Carving: Instruction for beginners from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Open House at Kamuela Hongwanji: Rev. Masanari Yamagishi explains Shin Buddhism rituals.
• Japanese Tea Ceremony: The Urasenke Hilo Association performs traditional chanoyu on the hour starting 9:30 a.m. with last ceremony at 1:30 p.m.
Parker Ranch Center — Highway 19
• Festival Entertainment Stage: In the Centerʻs back parking lot. A 9 a.m. blessing opens the festival with introduction of dignitaries, including the Japan Consul General Yutaka Aoki. Entertainment goes until 3 p.m., featuring a join-in bon dance, Chinese lion dance, Darlene Ahuna, The Just Us Band, Grass Fed Longorns, Johnny Ness and the Rockness Monster, Taishoji Taiko and more. Also, entertainment will be throughout the Center.
• Craft Fair: More than 50 crafters in the back parking lot.
• Mochi Tsuki Pounding: Help pound mochi with members of the Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple outside the Fireside Food Court starting at 10 a.m.; samples.
• Origami & Bon Dance: Learn the art of origami in the Fireside Food Court from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m; bon dance demo from noon to 1 p.m. near Graciela’s Beauty Salon.
Mana Christian ʻOhana Church – (Former Kahilu Town Hall) behind Parker Ranch Center
• Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea Quilt Show: Also sales of quilt patterns, sewing novelties and craft fair.
Historic Spencer House — Next to Waimea Center on Highway 19
• Japanese Collectibles: View a display of vintage kimono, obi and collection of kokeshi dolls, plus learn about the 1840 Spencer House.
Waimea Center — Highway 19
• KTA Super Stores Waimea: Food sampling until 1 p.m.
• Waimea Center’s Center Court: Darin Miyashiro performs koto, Kohala Taiko Drummers and Chinese lion dance.
Keck Observatory — Highway 19
• Telescope Viewing: See our nearest star, the Sun! West Hawaiʻi Astronomy Club and Keck Observatory provides solar telescopes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Waimea Historic Corner — Intersection of Highways 19 and 190
• Firehouse Gallery Activities: Waimea Arts Council presents the 30th Annual Cherry Blossom Art Exhibition with originals and prints for sale, including the new and past festival posters for $10. Hands-on cherry blossom art for all ages, materials provided, and outside chalk drawing.
• Waimea Preservation Association Cottage: Open house and fun on the 20-foot-square chess board from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library: Join the 2023 Cherry Blossom Tiny Art Show. Meet local artists and create your own tiny masterpiece, which will be displayed in the library’s show; materials provided while supplies last.
Pukalani Stables — Pukalani Road
• Kamuela Farmers Market: Sales of local produce, goods and food booths. Chef demos rom 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., lion dance at 10:15 a.m. and bon dance at 11 a.m.
The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is produced by the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation’s Culture and Education Section. The festival is a community-wide effort by a dedicated team of volunteers. For more information, call 808-961-8706.