Every year, hula dancers from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Mexico and Japan compete in the Moku O Keawe International Hula Festival. The three-day event on the Big Island also includes workshops promoting hula and Hawaii-related cultural education, as well as a “Made in Hawaii” market.

The competition portion usually wraps up each day’s event and is pided by the different styles of hula. These include: Wahine Kahiko (ancient hula for women), Kupuna Night (elder women) and Wahine Auana (modern hula for women). I love watching kupuna dance hula because they always look so happy! Their dancing reminds me to appreciate the simple things in life, like when someone smiles at you. And when kupuna smile on stage, the entire room lights up, as everyone begins to smile along with them.

There are many reasons why this hula festival differs from others. For one, it’s a hula competition that brings together dancers from all over the world. Dancers who share a passion for hula. Secondly, the cultural workshops offered push forth the traditional Hawaiian ways of today. Hula experts demonstrate how to make a traditional ti leaf hula skirt or how to use a traditional hula gourd in telling a story.

And in sticking to the local Hawaii ways, items “Made in Hawaii” will be sold at an open market outside of the event. It’s probably the most popular aspect of the festival. Each goody must meet a rigorous state law criteria in order to get the island-made or island-grown stamp of approval. There will be about 35 vendors selling things from hula implements to fresh lei and woven lauhala hats.

MOKU O KEAWE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL • Today to Sat, Nov. 3, 2012 • Tickets: $7 lawn seating, $19.50 reserved seating • Waikoloa Beach Resort, 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, HI 96738 • www.mokif.com

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