Merrie Monarch Festival canceled amid COVID-19 concerns

  • Tribune-Herald file photo The wahine of Hilo's Halau Hula 'O Kahikilaulani perform in the 2019 Merrie Monarch festival.

The 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival has been canceled due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a post this afternoon on its Facebook page.

“This was such a hard decision to make,” said Merrie Monarch Festivals President Luana Kawelu. “But we could not risk the health and well-being of our community, halau participants, vendors and the thousands of people who attend Merrie Monarch every year. In the end, we believe that keeping people healthy and safe must be the highest priority, and we all need to take on this kuleana in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19.”

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Understanding the need to address halau and visitor accommodations and transportation, Kawelu added, “Please give our airlines and hotels a day or so to sort out details. This is such an undertaking for all of them – their willingness and cooperation to work with us is a saving grace. We will update our own festival information when details become available.”

“We respect the decision to cancel the 57th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, and we feel it’s the right thing to do to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chris Tatum, president & CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “HTA has been a longtime supporter of the Merrie Monarch festival and looks forward to the return of this important cultural event in the future.”

“I am one hundred percent in support of the cancellation of this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival. As a Kumu, I am responsible for the well-being of my haumana, their families, and especially of their kupuna. I believe that cancelling this year’s festival is necessary for the health of our lāhui and the perpetuation of our culture and its intergenerational values,” said kumu hula Mapuana de Silva of Halau Mohala ʻIlima.

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“We are so grateful to the county of Hawaii, our kumu, haumana and every supporter of this festival,” said Kawelu.

All participating kumu hula and judges have been notified of the cancellation, the online dispatch stated.