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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Honolulu Festival an economic perk

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Shingo Sasa of the Hirosaki City festival group showed first-grader Jonah Faasoa of Wilson Elementary School how to beat the taiko drum during a preview for Island students of last year's 15th annual Honolulu Festival.


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Members of the Ibaraki City Dance Drill Team performed at Ala Moana Center as part of the 15th annual Honolulu Festival.


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Next week's Honolulu Festival, an annual showcase of Pacific Rim culture and food, is expected to draw roughly 4,700 visitors and pump about $10 million into the local economy, organizers say.

In its 16th year, the event will feature some 120 performing groups over two days at four venues across the city. It opens March 13 and winds up the next day with a parade through Waikīkī.

David Carey, Outrigger Enterprises Group president and chief executive officer, noted that the festival has grown over the years from a Japan-centered event to one that embraces the entire Pacific Rim.

"As Hawai'i's largest locally owned hotel chain, the festival is particularly important in the current economy, especially when we're trying to maintain our presence in the broader tourism market," Carey said at a news conference to promote the event.

The festival also has grown in popularity with locals and is expected to attract 70,000 kama'āina this year.

The large kama'āina contingent that shows up for the festival makes it a more authentic experience for visitors, said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.

"We have a competitive advantage (compared with other tourist destinations) because visitors get to touch and feel the community," he said.

All events during the two days are free, except for a "Friendship Gala" on Saturday night that is a fundraiser for the Honolulu Festival Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs the event.

Cultural demonstrations, live performances and movie screenings will be offered at four festival locations: the Hawai'i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Beach Walk and Waikiki Shopping Plaza.

Among the highlights will be an "Ennichi Corner" at the convention center that will offer children ongoing hands-on activities that include games, crafts, foods and traditions inspired by the traditional Japanese Saint's Day festival.

The Grand Parade down Kalākaua Avenue starts at 4:30 p.m. March 14 and will feature floats, including one with a "daijayama," or fire-breathing dragon.

For a full schedule of events, go to www.honolulufestival.com.