Puna festival celebrates breadfruit
The second annual Puna Ulu Festival — Ulu A Me Niu, will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, at Hooulu Lahui at Kua O Ka La Public Charter School at Pualaa, adjacent to the Ahalanui County Park warm ponds in Puna.
The event is free and open to the public.
The Puna Ulu Festival — Ulu A Me Niu will celebrate ulu (breadfruit) and niu (coconut) with a cooking contest, breadfruit trees and coconut palm trees for sale, presentations, keiki activities, cultural demonstrations, music all day with Diana Aki, Bruddah Kuz and ‘Ili Wai, and local food featuring breadfruit and coconut.
The day will begin with an opening pule by Kumu Hula Auli‘i Mitchell followed by a message from Gov. Neil Abercrombie delivered by his representative Wendy Botelho-Cortez.
The buffet lunch will feature gourmet dishes by Casey Halpern of Café Pesto, Kanoa Miura of Aloha Mondays, Mark Noguchi of Pili Hawaii and Taste, Clare and Dan Bobo of Island Thyme Gourmet and Slow Food Hawai‘i. The tentative menu includes fried ulu croquettes, braised Big Island beef, vegetable curry, heart of palm slaw with coconut mayo and ulu chocolate cookies.
Cultural activities include ulu and kalo poi pounding with Uncle Jerry Konanui and ‘Anakala Isaia Kealoha, kapa making with ulu bark by experts Wesley and Lehua Sen, crafting of pahu drums from coconut with Keone Turalde, coconut weaving, and making cordage from coconut fiber with Larry Kuamo‘o.
Keiki activities include games, face painting and block printing. Micronesians United will present traditional Micronesian preparations of ulu with coconut milk. Demonstrations of how to make coconut milk will be held throughout the day. Local coconut water, fresh out of the coconut, will be for sale.
Learning how to cook ulu and niu in new and traditional ways is one of the highlights of the festival. Cooking demonstrations will be given by local favorite Chef Mark Noguchi, aka “Chef Gooch”; Shirley Kauhaihao will show how to select and prepare ulu fruit; Madre Chocolate will be demonstrating how to make exquisite deserts from ulu and niu; the Kua O Ka Lā students culinary arts class will present their award-winning spicy ulu poke and raw foods experts Laura Dawn and Noah Dann will demonstrate how to make ulu tortillas with a variety of sauces.
The public is invited to compete in the ‘Ulu A Me Niu Cooking Contest in which the public can enter recipes in the categories of Appetizer, Main Dish/Entrée and Dessert. Entries must include both ulu (breadfruit) and niu (coconut), but the main ingredient must be ‘ulu. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in each of these categories and for Healthiest Choice and Best in Show. Breadfruit Cooking Contest rules and entry forms can be found at www.breadfruit.info.
Educational presentations about the cultural and horticultural aspects of breadfruit and coconut round out the event. Kua O Ka La students will present a need assessment of the importance of ‘ulu and niu in the community. Kumu Ryan McCormack will give two cultural presentations: “Ulu: A Hawaiian Perspective” and “Niuolahiki — The Life Giving Coconut.” Noa Kekuewa Lincoln of Stanford University will present his original research on “Kaluulu — the Ancient Kona Breadfruit Grove.” Agroforestry expert Craig Elevitch of Hawaii Homegrown Food Network will speak about “Homegardens — Pasifika Style.” Dr. Diane Ragone and Ian Cole of the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden will be on hand to answer questions and will give presentations on “Breadfruit and Sustainability” and “Ulu from Root to Fruit: Tree Planting, Care and Maintenance.” A tree planting with Leila Kealoha will commemorate the event.
The Puna Ulu Festival is presented by Ho‘oulu Lahui, Kua O Ka La Public Charter School, Hawaii Homegrown Food Network, the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The festival is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Kukulu Ola — Living Hawaiian Culture Program administered by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Doc Buyers Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, Suisan, Aloha Mondays, Madre Chocolate and Café Pesto. The Second Annual Puna Ulu Festival — Ulu A Me Niu is a part of a larger statewide effort to revitalize breadfruit for food security called Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu. Learn more about the Puna Ulu Festival by visiting www.breadfruit.info or call 965-5098.
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