As events go, the 2018 edition of the 36th Annual Hawaii Okinawan Festival was a smashing success. For the first time ever, the venue was moved from its longtime outdoor setting in Kapiolani Park to the Hawaii State Convention Center this year. I have been told the reason for the move was “financial” though the weather is often attributed. The festival was cancelled in 2016 after a hurricane was forecast to hit Honolulu.
For the most part the move from Kapiolani Park was successful. For me, it is much more convenient as I can simply walk to since I live about a half mile away. It might not be the same for others.
One thing for sure, the festival was organized in such a way that many events and activities could all occur at the same time, spread out in various spots throughout the first and third floors of the Convention Center. There was a main stage where all the major music performances took place, while other activities such as food sales, plant sales, various exhibits, keiki area, and movies played out in adjacent areas. It certainly gave festival attendees a variety of things to see and do.
PROS OF THE CONVENTION CENTER VENUE
- Free admission (as it has been for decades)
- Plenty to see and do
- Big main stage area, plenty of floor seating
- Music events at main stage are all free
- Simultaneous events happening all at once spread over two floors
- No rain or other weather threats
- Most activities are free
- Plenty of things to take photos and video of
CONS OF THE CONVENTION CENTER VENUE
- Parking costs $10 at the center
- Traffic congestion: Kalakaua, Kapiolani Blvd, Atkinson
- You have to pay for shuttle service to alternate parking site
- You have to pay to see some of the movies
- High priced tickets to some events
- Scrip system – personally I hate them
- Crowded – Long lines at food vendors
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Now that the festival is in this new location, will admission continue to be free? The festival has been a great venue for experiencing the Okinawan culture through food, exhibitions, film, song and dance. Let’s hope hope that it continues to be a free event and that no paid admission price is ever considered.
2018 OKINAWAN FESTIVAL VIDEO from the Hawaii Files Channel
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