HTA awards $270K to seven Kauai projects

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HONOLULU -- Seven grass-roots cultural tourism projects on Kauai received the Hawaii Tourism Authority's stamp of approval with grants totaling $270,000.

Statewide, the HTA awarded $1.2 million in grants to groups involved in tourism. The money is to help tourism-related groups' projects that will increase visitor spending and length of stay. The grants cover projects through July 2002.

The Office of Economic Development (OED) for the County of Kauai was awarded a $100,000 grant for its Kauai Cooperative Festivals project.

Under the project, the OED will act as a liaison between the HTA and Kauai's clubs and committees that sponsor events and festivals throughout the year.

Two festivals receiving funding are on the west side of Kauai near the town of Waimea.

The Waimea Town Celebration, set for Feb. 22 and 23, was awarded $25,000.

Last year, the festival drew a crowd of 14,000, and 3,000 of the attendees were visitors, according to Mark Nellis, president of the West Kauai Professional Association, which organizes the festival.

The celebration runs from 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday.

The highlight of the festival is a 10K fun run, said Nellis. The festival also features free entertainment; an ice cream-eating contest; a ukulele-playing contest; food, crafts and game booths; canoe races; a rodeo, and a softball tournament.

Nellis said this year's grant from the HTA will go toward producing a promotional video for television that will run on the Kauai Visitor Information Channel.

The West Kauai Business & Professional Association received a separate $10,000 grant to design an advertising video to promote businesses and historic sites in Waimea, said Nellis.

For more details on the festival and events in Waimea, call (808) 338-9957 or check the Internet at www.waimea.hawaiian.net/mainstreet/wtc.html.

Another festival on the west side of Kauai that received funding is the Emalani Festival, which was awarded $15,000.

The festival is set for Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Koke'e State Park.

The event is put on by the Koke'e Natural History Museum to commemorate Queen Emma's 1871 visit to the forest and Alaki Swamp near Koke'e State Park.

According to Michelle Hookano, assistant to the director of the museum, "In the morning of the festival the 'queen' comes down the meadow on horseback, and all the hula groups that will perform that day follow behind her."

The queen holds court all day while various hula groups dance the day away. There also are crafts booths.

Hookano said this year she is working with island hotels to secure free shuttles to the event.

For more details, call (808) 335-9975 or check the Internet at www.aloha.net/~kokee/.

Also on the west side of the island in Waimea, the Kauai Economic Development Board received $75,000 to update interactive computer information kiosks for visitors at the West Kauai Visitors Center.

The kiosks and video screens in the center, which is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., provide information on what to do on Kauai.

The visitor center also has a gift shop with goods made only on Kauai, visitor maps and permanent exhibits detailing the history of the area.

Current exhibits cover sugar plantation life, Kauai cowboys and exhibits on engineering and design history on Kauai. "If it's a rainy day, you can come in and take a virtual helicopter ride [over] Kauai with our video screen," said Aletha Kaohi, manager of the visitor center.

On the east side of the island in Kapa'a, the HTA awarded two organizations grants for the Royal Coconut Coast Coconut Festival and the Kauai Products Fair.

The coconut festival received $20,000 from the HTA and is planning its fifth yearly event for Oct. 6 and 7 at the Kapa'a Beach Park, according to festival organizer Bob Bartolo.

"I'm a member of the Kapa'a Business Association, and we were trying to get more visitor attention here, so I said, 'This is Coconut Coast, why don't we have a coconut festival?' "

Visitors are asked for a $1 donation to get into the festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

In addition to live music all day long, there are food booths and a coconut cream pie eating contest.

Food and crafts vendors sell all kinds of coconut creations: coconut shrimp; coconut hats, clocks and clothing; coconut Christmas tree decorations, and coconut earrings to name a few.

The HTA also awarded $25,000 to the Kauai Products Fair, an open-air market that features crafts and produce from local vendors.

Last year, according to the HTA, 156,000 people attended the fair. This year the group is hoping to get 1,600 out-of-state visitors per day at the fair.

The Kauai Products Fair is open Thursdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It is at the north end of Kapa'a next to the Red Dirt Shirt store.

For details, call (808) 246-0988 or check the Internet at www.kauaiproductsfair.com.

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