Top 20 things to do on Big Island Aug. 31-Sept. 6: Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Race, Maui Love Benefit Concert, Parker Ranch Labor Day Scholarship Rodeo and much more

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Aside from the 50th annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Race, this week’s events include support for people impacted by the deadly wildfires on Maui comprising of a benefit concert and a vigil, to more live music. Outside of events dedicated to Maui Strong efforts, there will be keiki activities, a scholarship rodeo at Waimea’s Parker Ranch, and even a singing competition searching for the first Hilo Idol.

Check out our top 20 things to do on the Big Island for Aug. 31 through Sept. 6.

No. 1 — 50th Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Race (Kona, Aug. 31-Sept. 4)

2018 Queen Lili‘uokalani Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Race. (File photo)

This race, which started in 1972 as a one-day training for the men’s only Moloka‘i-to-O‘ahu canoe race, is now the world’s largest outrigger canoe race, attracting about 2,500 paddlers from throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Crews race 5 miles, starting and ending at the Kailua pier in Kona.

The event starts today, with a relay team of eight paddling in an OC4 canoe. Saturday is the Wa‘a Kauakahi, with an 18-mile race from Kailua Bay to Hōnaunau Bay, and Monday features the kūpuna classic. For the full race schedule, click here.

No. 2 — Maui Love Benefit Concert (Kona, Sept. 3)

Image from Facebook

The Big Island community is invited to come together from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot at Tony Honda Kona to show solidarity with and offer support for the people of Maui affected by the horrific wildfires that destroyed Lāhainā and parts of Kula.

Participating musicians will include Anuhea, Brother Noland, Kala’e Parish, KalenaKu, Kenny T, Maka, Sebrina Barron Band, Binti Bailey, Ryan Hooley and Johnny Shot Band, among others.


For more information, check out the Maui Love Concerts Instagram page. Tony Honda is located at 75-5608 Kuakini Highway in Kailua-Kona.

No. 3 — Statewide vigil for Maui (various times and locations, Sept. 1)

Courtesy image

Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners will lead this one-day vigil to aid the emotional and spiritual healing of those on Maui who suffered devastating losses from wildfires that swept through Lāhainā and other areas of the island.

The vigil will be streamed live in partnership with ‘Ōlelo, Akakῡ Community Media, KAKU 88.5 FM, Maui Stream, Nā Leo TV, Hō‘ike TV, Hawai‘i News Now, KHON-2 and KITV-4, and online on and YouTube. Streaming ceremonies will include a sunrise event from 6 to 7:30 a.m., a midday event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a sunset ceremony from 6:30 to 8 p.m., all of which will take place concurrently throughout the islands.

The public is also invited to attend in-person ceremonies on the Big Island all day at Pu‘u Huluhulu off Saddle Road, at sunrise at Four Corners at Kumukahi in Puna, at noon in Lili‘uokalani Gardens on Banyan Drive in Hilo and at sunset at pavilions 3 and 4 at Old Kona Airport Park, located at 75-5500 Kuakini Highway in Kona.

For additional information, click here.

No. 4 — 47th annual Parker Ranch Labor Day Scholarship Rodeo (Waimea, Sept. 2-3)

Image from Facebook

Grab your boots, and cowboy hat and saddle up for two days of this annual fundraiser at the Parker Ranch Arena that provides scholarships for schoolchildren of Parker Ranch employees. Family-style fun full of rodeo events begins at noon on Saturday. Sunday’s horse auction begins at 9 a.m. and the rodeo starts at noon.

‘Ono food and refreshments will be available on both days with ongoing events including the newly added Lei Papale Contest. Tickets are $10 per person in advance from the Paniolo Preservation Society Store at Pukalani Stables or $15 at the gate on rodeo days. Children 12 and younger are free.

For more information, call 808-854-1541. The Parker Ranch Arena is located at 66-1304 Hawai‘i Belt Road in Waimea.

No. 5 — “Ghost” for Throwback Thursday at the Palace (Hilo, Aug. 31)

Image from Palace Theater website

Sam Wheat is a banker, Molly Jensen is an artist and the two are madly in love. However, when Sam is murdered by friend and corrupt business partner Carl Bruner because of a shady business deal, he is left to roam the earth as a powerless spirit. When he learns about Carl’s betrayal, Sam must seek the help of psychic Oda Mae Brown to set things right and protect Molly from Carl and his goons.

Doors, box office and concessions open at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. The film is rated PG-13 and stars Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.


Tickets are $10 general admission and $9 for seniors, students and veterans. The historic Palace Theater is located at 38 Haili St. in Downtown Hilo. Click here for more information.

No. 6 — Hilo Idol Round 2 (Hilo, Sept. 6)

Image from Levitation Entertainment Facebook page

The second round of the Big Island’s Ultimate singing competition in the showroom at Hilo Town Market, located at 69 Waianuenue Ave. in Hilo, will feature nine contestants seeking three top spots to move on to the semi-finals on Oct. 18. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Cost to attend is just $10.

Judges are Scotty on the Weekend from KWXX; Sister Sauce from KBIG, HI95 and The Beat; and “Hawaiiz Own” Mainlan of We Stranded Records. The show is directed by Jonathan Humphries of Lōʻihi Stidios and hosted by “Levi” Strauss of Levitation Entertainment. It is a production of Levitation Entertainment and Hilo Town Market.

You can also watch the show streamed live at The next round of auditions is underway now through 11:59 p.m. Sept. 12. For more information, check out the Levitation Entertainment Instagram page.

No. 7 — Hayden James Band at Kukuau Studio (Hilo, Sept. 2)

Image from Facebook

Kukuau Studio at 43 Kukuau St. in Hilo will host for the first time the danceable bluesy roots of the Hayden James Band. Corey Gravelle will open the vibes at 6:30 p.m. Following the opening band, the main event will play until 9 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Cost is $10. All ages are welcome.

No. 8 — Grand Slam at the Lava Lounge (Volcano, Sept. 2)

Image from Facebook

Grand Slam will be Rockin’ the Lava Lounge from 6 to 9 p.m. at Kīlauea Military Camp located at 99-252 Crater Rim Drive in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Come up to the coolest venue on the island to hear some of the best classic rock and blues — and don’t forget your dancing shoes. Cover charge is $10.

No. 9 — “Theater Camp” at the Palace (Hilo, various times Sept. 1, 3 and 5)

Image from Palace Theater website

Amos and Rebecca-Diane are lifelong best friends and drama instructors at a rundown camp in upstate New York. When clueless tech-bro Troy arrives to run the property (into the ground), Amos, Rebecca-Diane and production manager Glenn band together with the staff and students to stage a masterpiece — and keep their beloved summer camp afloat.

Doors, box office and concessions open at the historic Palace Theater, located at 38 Haili St. in Downtown Hilo, half an hour before each show. The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Sept. 1, 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sept. 3 and 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

Rated PG-13, the film stars Ben Platt, Molly Gordon and Noah Galvin. Tickets are $10 general admission and $9 for seniors, students and veterans. Click here for more information.

No. 10 — Walk with a Doc Hilo (Hilo, Sept. 3)

Image from Facebook

Join Walk with a Doc on Sunday at 8 a.m. in Lili‘uokalani Gardens on Banyan Drive in Hilo for a free health talk and community walk. Everyone is welcome.

Medical students from the John A. Burns School of Medicine and resident physicians from the Hawai’i Island Family Medicine Residency Program start each walk with a short medical talk. The talk is followed by up to an hour of walking.

You can walk fast or slow, alone or with friends. It’s up to you. But don’t miss this chance to motivate yourself to be more active and learn about healthy behaviors.

No. 11 — Jim Gonsalves at Pāpaʻaloa Country Store & Café (Pāpaʻaloa, Sept. 2)

Image from Facebook

Musician Jim Gonsalves of Laupahoehoe is back at the Pāpaʻaloa Country Store’s café and bar, located at 35-2032 Old Māmalahoa Highway in Pāpaʻaloa, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Gonsalves is a master on the saxophone and has a successful music career, even opening for acts such as Santana, James Brown and Tower of Power, among others. Come relax while you listen to his saxophone skills.

No. 12 — Umekes Poke & Seafood Festival (Kona, Sept. 2)

Image from Facebook

This family-friendly festival from 3 to 8 p.m. at Umekes, located at 74-5599 Pawai Place in Kona, will feature Keiki’s Corner; more than 20 vendors providing food, art and jewelry, live music, hula and more.

It also includes the Poke Throwdown, giving amateur and professional chefs a platform to battle against each other in an ultimate poke competition judged by four experts for the chance to win two roundtrip tickets to Las Vegas.

Click here for more information.

No. 13 — “Haili Moe” exhibit opening and Maui fundraiser (Hilo, Sept. 1)

Image from East Hawai‘i Cultural Center website

The “Haili Moe” exhibit, curated by Kanani Daley, runs Friday through Nov. 24 at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center located at 141 Kalakaua St. in Downtown Hilo. An opening reception is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, with donation box proceeds to be donated to the Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong fund to help with wildfire relief efforts.

One of the qualities of Hawaiian spirituality is its embodied practice of ancestral knowledge. Hawaiians believe their ancestors live within the natural elements as conscious, sentient forms and are inextricably connected with humanity. Hawaiians embody these spiritual forms through oli (chant), hula (dance) and aloha ‘āina (deeply and actively caring for the land).

Mo‘olelo (ancestral stories) are carried forth through these practices and unite Hawaiians to their genealogy, to the natural and spiritual world and to one another. The continued teaching of these practices is the sustaining foundation for Hawaiian culture.

For more information about the exhibit, click here.

No. 14 — The Rock Cycle Rocks! (Kona, Sept. 4)

Salt art will be part of the fun during Hawai‘i Keiki Museum’s Labor Day keiki camp. (Image from Facebook)

Keiki are invited to join this fun hands-on exploration of the rock cycle at the Hawai‘i Keiki Museum, located in Building D at 74-5533 Luhia St. in Kona, during a Labor Day keiki camp. Kids ages 5 to 11 will make their own sedimentary layers in a beautiful bottle, learn about fossils and even do some salt art.

It’s sure to be a fun-filled day that rocks! Cost is $40 and there is a limit of 20 keiki. For more information or to register, click here.

No. 15 — Meditation for Self-Healing and Balance (Kona, Sept. 5)

Image from Facebook

Come join a free, group-guided evening of self-healing, meditation and discovery every Tuesday at Unity of Kona, located at 74-5599 Luhia St., #F3, in Kona.

Shawn Godwin is a meditation teacher, advanced energy healer and empathic direct intuitive. She offers spiritual development, spiritual counseling, self-healing guidance, advanced energy healing, intuitive readings and meditation assistance.

All are welcome. Love offerings are accepted. For more information, call Unity of Kona at 808-808-322-0885 or email to [email protected].

No. 16 — Ho‘oulu Community Farmers and Artisans Market (Kona, Sept. 6)

Image from Facebook

Shop local from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday at the market located at 78-128 ‘Ehukai St. in Kona, on the lawn in front of Outrigger Kona. Vendors feature 100% Big Island grown, made and created products.

The market showcases artists, food, farm products and live music. Stop in for a quick bite or souvenir or spend the entire day. There’s something for everyone.

No. 17 — Greg Shirley’s Big Swing at Blue Dragon Tavern (Kawaihae, Sept. 2)

Image from Facebook

Greg Shirley’s Big Swing delivers a snappy, upbeat, swinging groove from the very first beat. Featuring a three-piece horn section and a full rhythm section, the band offers listeners and dancers alike everything from Lindy Hop and East Coast swing to salsa and cha-cha.

So boogie in your seat or put on your dance shoes and enjoy a swingin’ evening of great music at Blue Dragon Tavern, located at 61-3616 Kawaihae Rd. in Kawaihae.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with the show from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door and children 12 years old and younger are free. Click here for more information.

No. 18 — Reef Talks: “Settlement Dynamics of Reef Building Corals Along the West Coast of Hawai‘i” (Kona, Aug. 31)

Image from Facebook

Nathan Hayes from the Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources will present the Reef Talks program from 5 to 7 p.m. today in Building G at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, located at 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Highway in Kona. Reef Talks is a monthly lecture series about ocean conservation hosted by Mālama Kai Foundation.

If you can’t make it in person, join the live stream on YouTube.

No. 19 — “Changing Oceans: Changing Minds” exhibit by George Nuku (Volcano, through Sept. 10)

Image from Volcano Art Center website

The Volcano Art Center Ni‘aulani Campus, located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano, is hosting this large-scale art installation by visiting Maori artist and environmental activist George Tamihana Nuku.

Through the use of thousands of re-purposed empty plastic bottles and pieces of reused carved transparent plexiglass, the project aims to create a symbolic representation of Hawai‘i Island, surrounded by plastic marine life and sea birds. The participatory aspect is integral to people forming a personal cultural connection with plastic as a material and humanity’s inherent genealogical inter-relationship. The result is participants see themselves reflected in the pollution as a pathway to affecting a resolution.

The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 10. For more information, click here.

No. 20 — Nā Palapalai Live at the Palace (Hilo, Sept. 2)

Image from Palace Theater website

Hawaiian music band Nā Palapalai, comprised of Kuana Torres Kahele, Kapulanakehau “Kehau” Tamure and Keao Costa, returns to the historic Palace Theater, located at 38 Haili St. in Downtown Hilo, at 7 p.m., with their take on traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music. The performance will also feature hula performances by Hilo’s own Hālau Ka Lehua Pua Kamaehu.

Doors, box office and concessions open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $39 general admission in advance and $5 more the day of the show. For more information, click here.

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