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Puna 'Ulu Festival Attracts over 1,000 People

Written by Andrea Dean and Susan Osborne on 27 March 2012.

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The first Puna ‘Ulu Festival celebrated the culture, agriculture, and culinary arts surrounding breadfruit in Hawai'i.

The first Puna ‘Ulu Festival took place Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Ho‘oulu Lāhui, the site of Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School at Pū‘āla‘a, adjacent to the ‘Āhalanui County Park warm ponds in Puna. Despite island-wide rain, the weather at Pū‘āla‘a was clear, and the event was attended by about 1,200 people.

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Kauhi - Maunakea-Forth pounds breadfruit poi using traditional methods.

Over 800 people enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch donated and prepared by Team Pai‘ea of Kamehameha Schools and Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division. The lunch featured ‘Ulu Stew (Beef and Vegetarian), Warabi and ‘Ulu Salad, and ‘Ulu Bread Rolls.

Hawiian music, slack key guitar, and some occasional rock'n pop was provided by Bruddah Cruz, R.J. Kaneau, Keoki Kahumoku, Kaliko and Friends, Andy Andrews with KOKL students, and Keone Turalde.

There were fourteen entries to the cooking contest, with a variety of unique recipes—from ‘Aina Lasagna to ’Ulu and Cod Fish Salad. Winners of the contest are as follows:

Appetizer

1st – Genji Nakada, Hilo – Breadfruit Chips; 2nd – Honey Burns, Pahoa – ‘Ulu dip; 3rd – Pi’ilani Chavez, Hilo – ‘Ulu & Cod fish Salad.

Entrée

1st – Ann Kobsa, Pahoa  – ‘Ulu Puri’al; 2nd – Kua O Ka La School, Pū‘āla‘a,  – ‘Ulu Quiche; 3rd – Celeste Aleah, Pahoa – ‘Aina Lasagna

Desserts

1st – Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes, Pahoa – Pūnana Cookies; 2nd – Eno Gerard, Pana’ewa, Hilo – ‘Ulu Custard Pie; 3rd – Courtney Spalding-Mayer Nakada Farms, Kapoho – ‘Ulu Ice Cream.

Best of Show

Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes – Pūnana Cookies

Healthiest Choice

Ann Kobsa – ‘Ulu Puri’al

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'Anakala Isaiah Kealoha, who grew up Kalapana during the early 1900's, relates in his native Hawaiian language a lifetime of experience growing and eating breadfruit.

Winners took home prizes including Tahitian Style Quilts from Kao'o Designs in Waikoloa and an assortment of gifts from Abundant Life Natural Foods, Hawaiian Force, Café Pesto, Sig Zane, and Hawaiian Images of Aloha giclée prints from Suzy Papanikolas.

Many people were seen walking around with breadfruit trees they purchased, and children had their faces painted in fanciful ways.

The public enjoyed cultural activities throughout the day, including traditional ‘ulu poi pounding with ‘Anakala Isaiah Kealoha and Kauahi Maunakea-Forth; making poi boards from ‘ulu wood with Keone Turalde; and tapa pounding from ‘ulu bark with Ka‘uhane Ben Heloca and KOKL teacher Terry Rivera. Ryan McKormack of Kua O Ka La presented on the cultural uses of `ulu. The Mau Piailug Satawal ohana and Big Island Micronesians United demonstrated Pacific Island practices of `ulu. Dr. Dianne Ragone and Ian Cole from the National Breadfruit Institute shared information about the cultivation and maintenance of `ulu trees. The parents of Kua O Ka La PCS offered fresh coconut water to drink all day.

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A sumptuous buffet lunch was prepared by Team Pai‘ea of Kamehameha Schools and Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division

Chef Casey Halpern from Café Pesto demonstrated the preparation of an ‘Ulu Fritter with ‘Ohelo Reduction Sauce, and Shirley Kauhaihao, Hawaiian cultural practitioner from Kona, demonstrated how to make ‘Ulu Taro Salad. Kua O Ka La students presented how to make `ulu poi modern style with a juicer.

Uncle Keikialoha Keikipi conducted a ceremonial ‘ulu tree planting which commemorated the 10-year anniversary of Kua O Ka Lā PCS.

The Puna ‘Ulu Festival was sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Ho‘oulu Lāhui, Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School, Hawai‘i Homegrown Food Network andthe Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The Puna ‘Ulu Festival is a part of a  statewide effort to revitalize breadfruit for food security called Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu. Lean more at www.breadfruit.info.


Andrea Dean, MBA,of Sustainable Initiatives works with communities, businesses and non-profits on initiatives that enhance island economy, environment and community. Andrea is also the Special Projects Coordinator for the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network, and was co-coordinator of the Breadfruit Festival at Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook in September.

Susan Osborne is Principal and Executive Administrator of Kua O Ka La Public Charter School.