When Hilo Hums
Monday Musings by Melinda M.
I absolutely love Merrie Monarch week, I really do, and it’s not really because of hula. It’s because our town comes alive, puts on its Sunday best and plays host to the types of visitors who want to know Hawaiian culture and an authentic experience. Many of them are locals themselves, bringing their sing-song local speech cadence, hearty I’m-on-vacation laughter and the warm exchanges of hugs and kisses.
This was the 53rd anniversary of what’s become an international hula competition. All week, radio spots informed us of the event’s history and the local Hawaii news shot its broadcast from the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. It’s so fun being at the center of it all – seeing live shots from familiar locations and people we know being featured (go Hilo High School Hula Club!). Such a contrast to the Honolulu-focused news we normally get.
But what is springing up as an attraction in its own right are the craft fairs. They started as a normal capitalistic response to a major attraction but at this point, the “craft fair” has become so big that we need to stop calling it that. Yes, there are some really great crafts – embroidered towels, seatbelt covers, and decorated Tupperware – but there are just as many, if not more, handmade and high-end products that it feels like more of an marketplace.
That’s what we should call it: The Merrie Monarch Marketplace at the Civic. Or at Sangha Hall. Or at the Manono Marketplace. There are so many locations around town hosting these fairs in addition to the pop-up shops that, well pop-up only during this week. These are retailers from Honolulu and elsewhere that announce temporary locations through their social media channels who are selling gorgeous fabrics, clothing, purses, hats, jewelry, and lots more. It’s so amazing to see how this has all evolved and how creative our local artists, designers and merchants have become. I know several kids who were even pulled out of school to hit up this one-week-only FashionFest!
Sure, you could complain about the increased traffic and the parking but really, it’s so manini compared to regular-day traffic everywhere else and it’s not like there are angry or rude drivers along with it! So our roads are a little more congested than usual. So you gotta kinda go around looking for a space. It’s all good! It’s fun to be in it when Hilo is humming. Before you know it, everything goes back to its regularly scheduled programming.