The biggest yearly show and sale is where Hawaiians come to support their own.
I do remember being overwhelmed when I walked into the large arena last year for this show. You pay $4 and for that you get to shop, browse, learn, laugh, eat, try on, wiggle through tight aisles, and listen to great entertainment. That is a lot of bang for the buck and an amazing mercantile opportunity to cover the islands’ all in one space and time. I have to admit that when I’m there, I can be a bit blasé about knowing I can look someone up later, or visit a shop in person again – something a visitors on Hawaii Vacations can’t do, but I wasn’t prepared to find products that are so specific to an island, that I found myself wincing at the thought that it wouldn’t be available to me, any more than to a mainland visitor… unless I bought an interisland plane ticket. Case in point is the superior bread coming out of Molikai bakery. I about melted when I tasted their cream cheese/cinnamon sweet bread, which sold out before I got back to the booth a second time. I bought the regular French bread, which was the same bread, but plain, and just as wonderful in its own right. There are few places in Hawaii, IMHO, to get decent bread products and little Molokai has one of the best (they do not distribute to other islands).
To continue with Molokai, one very interesting booth was a young couple who gather, sort, and then produce the stunning necklaces made from Niihou shells. I’ve seen these in person – the real ones that is…. which is about like comparing dime store pearls to Mikimoto. This shell jewelry can reach up into the $Ks in price and become heirloom. I was fascinated by the information about this kind of shell jewelry (a Google can provide you with more info) and can see the intricate work involved in making these treasures. The shells can be so tiny and each one must be handpicked, color sorted and holes drilled for stringing. I was fascinated to see the big bowl of sand’ out on display, which was brought from the island to show the makeup of the shoreline there, out of which are picked the shells. More than ever now, I’d love to make a trip to this island.
Some very interesting and intricate jewelry made from shells and seeds.
You might know I love looking for new and local scents and I bought one last year at this event. It was a spray lotion in coconut scent. When my niece recently visited she discovered it in my closet and started using it. When I first took a whiff of her I’d forgotten how great it smelled. I thought she’d brought it with her, but it was actually mine and it was fun to rediscover it. So she asked me to pick up a few bottles of it for her, which I did. It is made by a local company Plumeria Rain which also sells from their internet site, so you can try them too. The product line is nice and comes in many scents besides my favorite coconut . I also discovered another local company named Napua’ala and bought the coconut verbena body spray for its very fresh smell that starts with coconut but fades into floral and just plain makes me smell good ( but not like sunscreen, I promise) Both products are well priced.
Displays and my bottles of scents.
This festival is so full of local companies that it’s almost impossible to see them all. I was there for five hours and walked out with many unseen. The brochure’s title, “Inspired by Hawaii. Made by local hands” is a perfect description. What I liked the best was that it gives the local and visitor access to small private companies from the neighboring islands who would not usually have access to the 40K people who walk through in a 3 day period. When looking at the exhibitor listing, it seemed half had a web presence for online shopping or information – certainly a good step to keep up with the times.
One good example is the beautiful but rather downplayed display for Lewis Koa Company from the Big Island. I admired their Koa carved wall art of the Hawaiian Islands (a deal at <$300) last year and saw it again this year. When I went to their web site I was very impressed with the scope of their work in wood that I didn't see at their booth. As Koa is such a valuable commodity, these products are definitely future heirlooms. His large furniture pieces are magnificent, while his small pieces such as bowls or paddles just glow showing off their grain. And I see they have earrings, which have an option of brass foundings and are currently on sale. These are just a few of the items that caught my eye at the festival.