Hawaii Island residents and visitors flocked to the Kona Coffee Living History Farm last Saturday to enjoy all the amazing things Kona has to offer. More than 400 people attended Kona Historical Society’s fifth annual Open House event, titled “Made in Kona,” at its historic 5.5-acre farm in Captain Cook.
Every year, Kona Historical Society, a nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate, hosts this free event to give back to the community. This year’s celebration honored Kona’s heritage by offering various hands-on activities, centered on cultural traditions and practices that were performed by Kona’s coffee industry and its pioneers. Those activities included coffee picking, gardening, lauhala weaving, Japanese calligraphy, and pan-roasting coffee. Nonprofit and community groups, such as the Donkey Mill Arts Center, West Hawaii Master Gardeners, and Aloha Performing Arts Co, were also spotlighted.
The event featured a bounty of ono foods including chicken hekka, a local dish and plantation classic with humble beginnings that every Hawaii family makes differently. Sandy’s Drive In, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, demonstrated how to make chicken hekka while sharing the history behind it. Other local vendors providing tasty goodies were Sundried Specialties, Kona Kombucha, Scandinavian Shave Ice, Kealakekua Ranch Center/Choice Mart, Kona Coffee & Tea Co. and Peacock Pastries.
Throughout the day, attendees took a trip down memory lane while listening to songs of the coffee land played by Kona Daifukuji’s Happy Strummers. They were later treated to the superb vocal stylings of the famous “Songbird of Milolii” Diana Aki, who was accompanied by her friends Nathan Grace and Larry Katahara.
Many attendees took the opportunity to tour the historic 1920s coffee mill and farmhouse, as well as learned about early trade in Hawaii and the diversity of products made in Kona at the Society’s special photo and artifact exhibit. Some even dressed up in interpretive costumes and posed in the Society’s photo booth.