Hawaii Pacific Islands Kava Festival

By Caroline Wright

When Polynesian voyagers first launched their canoes for the distant shores of Hawaii, they carried provisions meant to see them through the journey and beyond, into a new life in a faraway place: taro, breadfruit, sugar cane, bamboo, yam, banana, kukui, coconut, gourd, sweet potato, and mountain apple.

Their provisions also included medicinal herbs. Perhaps none was more important than ‘awa, or kava, a plant with sedative and anesthetic properties. Its roots are ground and then brewed to produce a relaxing beverage whose effects do not interfere with mental clarity.

The Hawaii Pacific Islands Kava Festival, hosted by the ‘Awa Development Council of Hawaii, is a celebration of the plant as an “important and fundamental aspect of Hawaiian culture and a treasure for Hawaii’s people and the world.” The 2011 festival will take place Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on the McCarthy Mall between Varney Circle and Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus.

The event will feature live music, educational and cultural booths, ‘awa sampling, plants, workshops and demos, poi pounding and food booths, as well as cultural and scientific discussions in the on-site ‘awa garden. Additionally, local bars and cafés that feature ‘awa will be on hand to serve samples to the public. A traditional Hawaiian kapu ‘awa ceremony also will take place at the event, honoring those have contributed to island culture, education and science.

Last year’s entertainment included stellar performances by Grammy-winning artist Jeff Peterson, as well as appearances by other noted performers and bands such as Johnny Helm, Kupaaina, Mike Love, One Right Turn, Evasive Species (with Shawn Mosely and Stephen Inglis), Michael Tanenbaum, Kanoho Helm, Matty McIntire and Halau Mele.

For information, including schedules as they are announced, visit KavaFestival.org.

Videos

Festival sights and sounds www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9eHCV5mM5k

More festival sights and sounds www.alohafromoahu.com

Music from the `Awa Festival http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UylYtOjG71w

Hawaii Pacific Islands Kava Festival

Date(s)/Time(s): Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Location: UH Manoa main campus on McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, HI

Cost: Free

Website: kavafestival.org

Noteworthy: Parking on street or on campus

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