Kauai’s Koloa Plantation Days: A 10 day Celebration on the Sunny South Shore of Kauai

By Coco Zickos

Photo courtesy Koloa Plantation Days.

Experience the plantation heritage and modern-day vitality of the Garden Isle’s communities of Kōloa and Po‘ipū at the 34th annual Koloa Plantation Days. The renown 10 day festival celebrates the bygone days of Kaua‘i’s plantation era every summer and this year marks the 34th year. The Koloa Plantation Days festival is every July – this year the festival will run July 19-28, 2019. The 10-day celebration includes more than 30 free and low cost activities where attendees learn and experience Kauai’s plantation heritage.

Visit www.koloaplantationdays.com for more information and a full schedule of events.

What is Koloa Plantation Days?

Photo courtesy Koloa Plantation Days.

Kōloa Plantation Days is an annual celebration held in July on the south shore of Kaua‘i. It’s a festival that allows visitors an opportunity to absorb themselves in the island’s rich cultural diversity, as well as honor a lifestyle that was once so prevalent in Hawai‘i. The festival observes the history of Kōloa and the many different ethnic groups that have made their way to the area throughout the decades.

Celebrating Our Plantation Roots

Photo courtesy Koloa Plantation Days.

Kōloa happens to be the site of Hawai‘i’s first sugar plantation, founded in 1835. Filipinos, Europeans, Chinese and Japanese are among the groups of people who immigrated to Kaua‘i once this era began, bringing with them myriad ways of life. Though the Kōloa Mill is no longer in operation (you can still see its disheveled structure along the Kōloa bypass road or Ala Kinoiki), its legacy and lifestyle of the people who came to work there are still present.

The nostalgic celebration features a number of activities that continue throughout the course of 10 days. Rodeos, music, food, nature walks, fishing and games are all on the schedule of events that pay historical tribute to the area’s flavorful community and environment. Tennis and golf tournaments invite guests to experience the more modern-day side of Kōloa that continues to attract people from around the world.

Photo courtesy Koloa Plantation Days.

The Hawaiian culture is also highly revered at this summertime gathering. Traditional crafts and entertainment are a featured element of the festivities.

One of the festival’s culminating events is a colorful parade that proceeds through Old Kōloa Town, bringing individuals from all walks of life together in such a joyful way. The procession includes paniolo (cowboys) on horseback, hula hālau (hula schools) with students decked in vibrant flower lei and generations of descendants of those who settled on the south shore centuries ago. Starting at 9am the road will be closed and the park open offering crafts, shopping and food at 9am. The parade will start at 10am followed by a wonderful music and dance program reflecting Kauai’s diverse cultures.

2019 Koloa Plantation Days Events

This year’s festival kicks off with the 20th Annual Plantation Days Rodeo highlighting championship roping, bull riding and unique events reflecting paniolo culture. Multiple activities take place every day after that, like an easy morning walk along the Historic Hapa Trail, which at one time served as the link between Kōloa with Po‘ipū, lead by guides who “talk story” about the days of yesteryear. You can even learn to cook plantation-style and listen to old timers as they share “Sweet Memories of Old Kōloa.”

Photo courtesy Koloa Plantation Days.

Be sure not to miss the event that started the tradition, the beautiful Hawaiian flower and paniolo filled parade, on July 27 at 10 a.m. (Road closure and park festivities open at 9am). The procession marches through Kōloa town with floral floats, walking and equestrian units, decorated vehicles, vintage cars and a marching band. After the parade, walk to Knudsen (Kōloa) Ball Park for a full day of revelry with non-stop entertainment, featuring music representing the diverse cultural mix of the sugar era. For a $5 entry fee, residents and visitors enjoy music and entertainment, delicious local food, keiki rides and activities, a silent auction and one of Kaua‘i’s largest craft fairs of Hawai‘i-made products.

Visit www.koloaplantationdays.com for more information and a full schedule of events and to find ways to volunteer, join in and support. Most events are free or a minimal cost with sponsorship by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority along with other local businesses, event sponsors, resorts and organizations.

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