KEAUHOU — After Waimea resident Juliana Kasberg saw the email from Donkey Mill Art Center promoting the 12th annual Cool Fusion: Festival of 1,000 Bowls, she printed it out and kept it for weeks leading up to Saturday’s event.
“We’ve always liked Donkey Mill’s things that they do for the community,” she said.
“For me it was definitely the bowls and being able to eat noodles from your bowl that you choose,” added Lauren Pollard, who was with Kasberg at the event, on what brought her down.
And like most who came to the festival at Keauhou Shopping Center, they gave careful consideration to which bowl they would claim as theirs.
“I liked the colors; I liked the size,” Pollard said of her bowl. “I liked that I can fit it in my cabinet with my other bowls and not have too many awkward-sized bowls in my cabinet.”
“Mine had to fit ice cream,” noted Kasberg.
The annual event supports Donkey Mill Art Center, a community art center in Holualoa that also offers classes and workshops for artists.
Rebecca Villegas, event coordinator for Donkey Mill Art Center, said Donkey Mill’s ceramics department created about 1,600 handmade and decorated bowls of various shapes, sizes, colors and textures.
After picking the bowl of their choice, attendees could fill it with a traditional cold noodle dish, prepared with the help of the culinary department at Kealakehe High School.
Villegas noted collaborating with other community organizations is one of the art center’s goals, including offering opportunities for culinary students to get hands-on experience with food preparation.
The event also included Gypsea Gelato and live performances by Kona Dance and Performing Arts and Big Island Music Academy.
Having so many groups come together for the common cause, Villegas said, is the fusion in the celebration.
“Communities are stronger together,” she said, “and so we like to provide opportunities to fuse all the talents and resources that everyone has to offer and making the load lighter, and the outcome this much more spectacular.”
The festival is one of Donkey Mill’s two signature fundraisers during the year — the other being the annual art auction to be held in February. It allows Donkey Mill to continue offering art classes for adults and children at the art center as well as covering the expenses the nonprofit incurs.
Erik Omundson, a ceramics teacher at Donkey Mill, pointed out the importance of the festival and the art auction for the center, along with the public’s support of the major events.
“Without these two legs, we have nothing to stand on,” he said.
He added the event offers a chance for people to engage with art that they also get to take away with them at the end of the day.
“A lot of people go to shows and just look at work,” he said, “but they come home with something on this one.”
And regardless of how people express themselves — whether a potter’s bowl, Pollard’s baking or Kasberg’s crafting and photography — that creativity has an important place in everyone’s lives.
“I think it’s just good for your soul,” Pollard said.
“It brings out your own personality,” added Kasberg, “and not get stuck in a pigeonhole.”