WAIKOLOA VILLAGE — “The mission of the Wiliwili Festival is to inspire our community to become better stewards of our unique environment in Hawaii,” Jen Lawson said, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative’s executive director.
The nonprofit organization will host the 7th annual event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday at Waikoloa Stables. The fun, free, educational festival appeals to all ages, and brings many local organizations and businesses together to raise awareness about the Hawaiian culture, the island’s native ecosystems and work that is being done to protect and conserve the island’s resources.
“Between 1,500 and 2,000 people came last year,” Lawson said.
This year, guided and self-guided visits will be available to the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve throughout the day. The free guided tours will be every hour between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., beginning and ending at the Waikoloa Stables with transportation provided by Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative (WDFI) and Hawaii Forest &Trail. Those interested in the 8 and 9 a.m. tours must sign up by email or phone prior to the event. For other time slots, participants can sign up at the event or in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 494-2208.
Visitors can take self-guided tours between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although there is no charge, donations are encouraged to benefit WDFI.
Free interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages will be held at the Stables, with informational booths hosted by nonprofit and public agencies, a silent auction, free workshops, and a lecture series with talks on urgent invasive species issues, stories of place in South Kohala and updates from partners in conservation from across the island.
Wiliwili trees and other native plants can be purchased at the festival, in addition to numerous food options from local vendors and 2018 Wiliwili Festival t-shirts. Llosh &Found, Ryan Higgins and Good Vibe Tribe will provide live music all day.
Additional information and updates are posted regularly on the WDFI website at waikoloadryforest.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/waikoloadryforest.
The annual WDFI Art Stroll fundraiser will be from 5 to 8:30 p.m. this Friday at Waikoloa Stables, the night before the festival. The evening of art and entertainment will showcase works by featured artists who will donate a minimum of 25 percent of their sales to benefit WDFI.
“We hope to raise $10,000 on Friday,” Lawson said.
Works available for purchase include woodblock printmaking by Andrea Pro, fine giclees by Calley O’Neill, woodblock prints from Margaret Barnaby and photography by Charla Thompson and Tommy Adkins, among others.
An exclusive “Paint &Sip” activity with art instructor Calley O’Neill will be offered that night for $95, including pupus and open bar. She will guide participants as they sketch and paint one of the forest’s beloved wiliwili trees. Each painting can be taken home as a memento. Space is limited and will require an advanced ticket at www.commitchange.com/events/wiliwili-festival-art-stroll.
A premium silent auction, glow-in-the-dark putting contest and additional games will be among the activities.
Food will be provided by Island Lava Java, including an open bar with beer and wine. A whiskey and cigar bar will also be available, and live music performed by Ira Varize, John Keawe and Hoku Pa’a Trio.
General admission to the fundraiser is $45 per person. VIP tables for 10 can also be purchased for $500.
To purchase tickets for the Art Stroll go to www.commitchange.com/events/wiliwili-festival-art-stroll.