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Craft Fairs at the Merrie Monarch Festival


As anyone in my family will tell you, I’m not much of a shopper. There are several reasons for this, starting with the fact I don’t like traffic or trolling for a parking space.

But despite the daunting prospect of full parking lots and possible inclement weather, I do appreciate beautiful things, which is why I enjoy craft fairs at the annual Merrie Monarch Festival.

Parking area for Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair. Note looming black clouds.

The world famous hula competition encompasses many aspects of Hawaiian culture – among them language, history, and artistry.

Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair.

Banner. Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair.

The Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair is sponsored by the Merrie Monarch Festival. Organizer  Nelson Makua calls it a celebration of all things Hawaiian. Makua selects one hundred sixty vendors from the State of Hawai`i. Many return each year to reconnect with other artists.

Handmade Feather Lei. Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair.

Vendors develop their products all year. For example, it takes twenty to eighty hours to hand wrap a feather lei. Each 24-inch lei, on average, uses from two to three thousand feathers. Traditional colors are gold, green, red and black.

Examples of pahu, rare shell leis, and textiles. Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair.

Everything at the Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair was exquisitely created and beautifully displayed. Among the items that caught my eye were pahu drums, shell leis and textiles.

The Annual Hawaii Arts, Crafts, and Food Festival

Shoppers at Hawaii Arts, Craft & Food Festival.

The Hawaii Arts, Crafts and Food Festival is a more eclectic event. Organizers hold two events annually, one to coincide with the Merrie Monarch Festival and the other during the Christmas shopping season. The emphasis is on Hawai`i’s diverse cultural heritage.

Handmade jewelry display. Hawaii Arts, Crafts and Food Festival.


Handmade artificial flowers. Hawaii Arts, Crafts, and Food Festival.

Several vendors specialized in handmade jewelry. There were T-shirts and other clothing items, products made from koa wood, specialty soaps and fragrances.

Hilo Shopping Center Merrie Monarch Craft Fair


My last stop was at Hilo Shopping Center for the Merrie Monarch Craft Fair. Marcia Prose, fair coordinator, said, “we like to call our fair ‘kama`aina craft fair’ because these are truly local people.”

Vendors at Hilo Shopping Center Merrie Monarch Craft Fair.

There were about thirty vendors selling jewelry, clothing, pictures ready for framing, and much more.

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a special event for everyone in the Hilo community. It’s an opportunity to connect with the creative energies of dance, music, and design. The 52nd Merrie Monarch is now a memory, but it’s not to early to begin planning your visit next year.


Featured Image: Fresh Haku Lei at the Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair.

Photos by Author. All Rights Reserved.

Hawaii Arts, Crafts, and Food Festival. Here.

Katie Young Yamanaka. “Crafts fair fun.” Hawaii Tribune-Herald. April 21, 2014. Here. 

Katie Young Yamanaka. “Got the Fever.” Island Beat, Hawaii Tribune-Herald. April 2, 2015.

Merrie Monarch Festival Here.

Nelson Makua Design and Nā Mākua Original Hawaiian Designs. Here.

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


  1. Wish I could have been there! After so much minimizing (of belongings, of living space), I would have only been admiring the beauty – but would so love to be there for the hula competitions!! :- D


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