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Bad economy can't stop festival


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POSTED: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last year it was the shutdown of Aloha Airlines. This year it's a severely weakened U.S. economy. Still, the Merrie Monarch Festival goes on, despite weakness in the travel market.

That's good news for Hilo businesses, but any profits engendered by festival-goers will probably be less than desired. Reports suggest there will be a smaller number of vendors set up in Ah Fook Chinen Auditorium near Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium where the four-day festival takes place, but festival president Luana Kawelu reports that Merrie Monarch, once again, is a sell-out.

For the first time, KITV 4 Island Television will be using high-definition cameras to broadcast the competition to the rest of the state, and its Web site, KITV.com, will again provide live streaming video online. Its viewing audience has ranged far and wide, from the mainland and Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, throughout Europe, India and Iraq and Kuwait in the Middle East.

That outside audience should grow with the additional media partnership with Hawaii IPTV. The local Internet protocol television provider will pick up KITV's video feed and offer it live and on demand to any TV outside of the state that subscribes to its service (http://www.tvfromhawaii.com).

And Waikiki tourists will be able to see the festival on eight plasma screens in the Royal Hawaiian Center's food court due to its connection to the center's cultural director, Manu Boyd, who will be KITV's color commentator this year. (Boyd and his Halau o ke A'ali'i Ku Makani participated in several Merrie Monarch competitions.)

The festival will also be highlighted by the debut of Keali'i Reichel's Halau Ke'alaokamaile from Maui. (The halau last competed in the 2006 King Kamehameha hula contest here on Oahu.) While the popular award-winning musician usually shies away from hula in a competitive setting, his students reportedly were so passionate about dancing in Merrie Monarch, Reichel abided by their wishes.

Kumu hula Kau'ionalani Kamana'o and Kunewa Mook's Hula Halau 'o Kamuela will also aim for another “;three-peat”; as winners in the hula kahiko and 'auana divisions, plus as the overall winner of last year's festival.

This year also marks the debut of two halau whose kumu are both former Miss Aloha Hula winners: 1968 Miss Aloha Hula Sheldeen Kaleimomi Haleamau's Halau Hula 'o Kaleimomi from the islands' second “;home”; of Las Vegas, and 1999 winner Tracie Ka'onohilani Farias, who, with her husband and co-kumu hula, Keawe Lopes, will introduce their halau Ka La Onohi Mai o Ha'eha'e.

 

Miss Aloha Hula participants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
NameHalau
» Ashley Kananioalapa'i ArtisHalau Na Mamo O Ka'ala
» Kristi Keahiapele CelebradoNa Hula O Kaohikukapulani
» Gerilyn Snow EmataHalau O Ka Hanu Lehua
» Cherissa Henoheanapuaikawaokele KaneHalau Ke'alaokamaile
» Maria Ka'iulani KanehailuaKa La 'Onohi Mai O Ha'eha'e
» C'ari Mae Kawailehua KealohaHula Halau 'O Kamuela
» Malia Ann Kaleihiwahiwaonamakua MarksHalau Hula Olana
» Pohaikau'ilani Ann Nu'uhiwaKeolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka
» Kaholo Kahikipi'ilani PanuiHalau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu
» Nicole Kehaulani Aki TaniguchiHalau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea
» Kiara Masayo Kalehuaikauanoe WheelerHalau I Ka Wekiu