Hui o Laka-Koke`e Natural History presents its 25th Annual Eo e Emalani I Alaka‘i Festival on the lush expanse of Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow in Koke`e State Park in West Kaua‘i.
Each year the Emalani Festival brings Kaua`i residents and visitors together to commemorate and celebrate Hawai`iʻs beloved Queen Emma and her journey to the Koke`e uplands and Kilohana Lookout in 1871. The event has become one of the most popular and authentic festivals on Kaua`i.
A plucky woman, with many facets to her personality, considerable skills and talents and a great leader of her people, Emma made her journey with an entourage of over 100 who leapt at the chance for an adventure with their Queen. Along the way, she called for her court chanter to offer oli, great poems of appreciation for the magnificence of the regionʻs landscape and for its precious birds, trees and plants. Other chants praised the Queens courage to undertake the trek in the cold month of January where the rain and damp caused her companions to waver. She even sat in the Alakai Swamp and chanted ancient mele to give them cheer to get through the soggy night.
The Festival brings together Kumu Hula and their haumana, teachers of hula and their students, together with scholars, Hawaiian craft people, Hawaiian musicians, exhibits and other activities that evoke that time.
When the Queen makes her entrance on to the meadow, there is always excitement as she comes on horseback, bedecked with lei accompanied by the man who will portray Kaluahi, the Hawaiian hunter and cowboy who guided Queen Emma’s party over rough and slippery terrain.
To the beautiful strains of Nick Castilloʻs “Wahine Ui”, she will ride and pause to acknowledge the halau who come forward to welcome her with chant. A thrill comes over the crowd for they instinctively feel that something very profound is happening. It is as if the spirit of Queen Emma has come to the mountains once again.
Live Hawaiian music begins at 10 a.m., beginning with David Kaua`i and Friends with Ukulele Na Haumana O Namolokama; followed by Nick Catillo and Friends. Queen Emma arrives at noon and halau from across the state as well as Japan will give their gifts of chant and dance for the rest of the afternoon.
The public is invited to the cool uplands of Koke`e. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. There is limited parking so carpooling is recommended. Bring a mat or low chair and layered clothing. Please no pets. For more information, call the Koke`e Natural History Museum at 335-9975, ext.0.