By Bernard Gosset
About 1,000 people attended the annual Waipa Taro Festival last Sunday, enjoying music and cultural entertainment and checking out food and products from more than 50 vendors, some from other islands.
The festival hosted by the Waipa Foundation on Kaua‘i’s North Shore — usually held on the first week of December — is going strong in its fifth year after being brought back.
The festival was a popular event back in the 1990s, but somehow ceased. A new leadership at the Waipa Foundation brought the event back to life in 2010, after a 10-year hiatus.
“We missed celebrating the taro,” said Stacy Sproat-Beck, Waipa Foundation Executive Director.
In ancient Hawai‘i, taro was the main food for Hawaiians, but it had a much larger role than a dietary staple. The plant was the core of the Hawai‘i’s economic, political and spiritual structure. Hawaiians believed taro was the older brother of the first Hawaiian.
In tales of taro’s origins, taro was the stillborn first child of Wakea, the sky father, and his daughter Ho‘ohokukalani. The child was buried and grew into a taro plant named Haloanaka. The second son of Wakea and Ho‘ohokukalani took human form, and was named Haloa after his elder brother. From Haloa, the human race descended. Thus Hawaiians understood themselves to be closely related to taro
Besides dozens of vendors, hula dancers and six bands kept the crowd entertained.
Now that the Waipa Taro Festival is over, Waipa Foundation will gear up for their next Mango & Music Festival in August 2015.
Visit www.waipafoundation.org for more information.