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Kohala magic: The 8th Annual Aina Fest expands

Updated: 
October 30, 2017 - 4:00am

NORTH KOHALA — This Saturday, on the makai lands of the historic Halawa ahupuaa in Kapaau, the eighth annual Aina Fest will fill Inhabit Sanctuary and Retreat Center with music, arts and culture.

The festival began in 2009, when HIP Ag farm managers Dash and Erica Kuhr wanted to share some of the abundance that surrounded them.

“People are hungry for the offering of the Aina Fest, which is a vision of gathering in a traditional sense around Makahiki season and honoring the traditions of the land,” said Dash, who is also HIP’s agriculture director.

Over the years, the festival expanded as various artists and organizations have lent their expertise and energy.

“It’s grown kind of organically and beautifully over the years. The first year they had maybe 50 people and one band. This year we have two stages and 20 musical acts,” said Maya Parish, the event’s producer.

The festival will feature a variety of music from locally-based musicians.

“We’ve really expanded in the kinds of music we’re presenting. Makana is playing this year, and our other headliner is reggae master Mike Love and his trio. Also Nowelo, a hip hop blues duo who will be bringing a nine-piece band featuring guitarist Reggie Griffin and vocalist Ann Hoku Lyn. Latin gypsy funk band Leche De Tigre, will be returning,” Parish said.

“All of these artists are involved in the food sovereignty movement. Music with a message is very important to all of us,” she added.

New this year will be pre-event workshops included free with a festival pass. This Wednesday from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. “Natural Building with Hualalai” taught by Hualalai Keohuloa from Honokaa will be available. An experienced canoe builder, he will teach traditional lashing techniques using natural fibers.

A “Building with Bamboo with Bobby Grimes” workshop will be offered Thursday at the same times.

“Bobby Grimes is a master bamboo builder. He’s the director of operations for Hawaii Agriculture and Energy Earth Products,” Parish said.

“Permablitz with Paul Izak &Craig Capomaggi” will be from 2-6 p.m. Friday.

“A permablitz is a bunch of people coming together to plant in the permaculture style. They’re going to do that at the HIP Halawa Farm, adjacent to the festival grounds and it’s going to be facilitated by Paul Izak, one of the festival’s musicians, and Craig Capomaggi,” she said.

Following that workshop, participants will be treated to a campfire jam.

“What we love about these workshops and the ‘permablitz’ is that it’s a way to extend them to festival goers so they can learn more and have more time to really absorb these teachings,” Parish said.

All festival proceeds will benefit HIP Ag programs that run all year long with K-12 educational groups and the resident farmer program.

“We train young farmers and send them out into the world. We want to walk the talk of food sovereignty and this event is about empowering and celebrating that,” she said.

The festival, which will run from 1-10 p.m. Saturday, will have an array of activities and entertainment, featuring a Hawaiian village with poi pounding, lei making, pau drum making and makahiki games facilitated by Kumu Lanakila Manguil and Kanu o ka Aina students with their teacher Kiteya Belford-Smith, returning for their fifth year.

Along with aerial acrobatics, fire dancing, African drumming, face painting, a keiki zone, Blue Zone and a yoga tent, there will be 16 arts and crafts booths, locally-sourced food vendors and educational booths provided by organizations working in ecology and agriculture. Among these are CTAHR with information on rapid ohia death, Hawaii Ulu Cooperative and the Center for Food Safety, to name just a few.

Info and pre-sale tickets: Go to http://hipagriculture.org/aina-fest

RSVP required for pre-festival workshops at: http://hipagriculture.org/aina-fest/2017/pre-fest-workshops or contact Lauren Ruotolo at hipagriculture@gmail.com or 333-8664.

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