by Staff Writer
on Monday, April 8th, 2019 at 9:42am.
For the Hawaiian people, taro — called kalo in the islands — is more than just a plant. The sacred plant is instead considered an ancestor of their people, known as the elder brother of man. When the first voyagers arrived on the islands’ shores nearly 1,500 years ago, taro was one of the few plants they brought with them.
The plant is still considered sacred today. On Maui, it’s celebrated each year at the East Maui Taro Festival, an event held in Hana for its 27th time this year. From 9 a.m to 5 p.m. this Saturday at the Hana ballpark, you can sample and purchase fresh poi made by East Maui taro farmers, as well as other taro products such as kulolo.
Locals and visitors of all ages can try their hand at poi pounding, which goes on all day. The celebration of Hawaiian history also includes demonstrations on traditional fishnet-making, weaving, cloth production.
And, of course, there’s food: While listening to live music and watching hula, you can munch on delicacies from more than 20 food booths featuring taro dishes. More than 40 arts and crafts vendors will also be set up at the free event.
But that’s not all. On Sunday, join local agricultural experts on tours of the Mahele Farm and Kahanu Garden. The tours begin at 10:30 at the Mahele Farm, a 10-acre farm that uses natural and regenerative agricultural practices in Hana. Then you’ll head to the Kahanu Garden, which will feature information about the Pi’ilanihale Heiau and the plants of the Pacific — including the largest breadfruit collection in the world.