Last weekend, the 26th annual Master Blasters canoe race made a big splash in Kaunakakai.
It was paddles down and bottoms up for the dozens of racers dressed in costume, as they sipped a beer a mile during the six-mile competition.
Crews dressed as Chippendale dancers, Cruella DeVilles, flappers, beer hunters and gondoliers from Venice. Live music, food and dancing kicked off the after-party, starting at 10 a.m. at the harbor.
Maui paddlers Doreen Dagan (left) and Lea Giddens get in the flapper state of mind before the Master Blasters canoe race Saturday from Rice Patch to Kaunakakai Harbor.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
“The expo is another great venue for Molokai to get some exposure,” says coordinator Cameron Hiro, who is also operations manager for Hawaii Kai gourmet sea salts.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
In addition, Aqua Hotel Molokai jumped with a Halloween costume contest Friday, and all kinds of characters crawled out of the woodwork to enter and parade around the pool. The lights of West Maui twinkled across the Pailolo Channel.
"We want everyone to know: Molokai is alive and well and open for business," says Julie Bicoy, director of the Molokai Visitors Association.
"We have a lot of fun activities to do here, places to see, little places to eat, and it's easy to get here from Lahaina on the Molokai Princess ferry."
What: Ninth annual Business & Food Expo, presented by Molokai Chamber of Commerce. More than 25 food and craft vendors will have displays and you may buy items, watch chef demos by top Maui County chefs, and listen to live music.
When: From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Lanikeha Center in cool upcountry Ho'olehua.
The products: Molokai shrimp, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fish and meat products donated by farmers and merchants will be prepared and artfully displayed.
The quote: "With opportunities for our businesses, the event truly helps strengthen the economy," says Robert Stevenson, president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce.
For more information: Call the chamber at (808) 553-4482.
Coming up, the ninth annual Business & Food Expo will draw in the crowds from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Lanikeha Center in Ho'olehua.
This year's theme is Pu Ke Pono Maika'i (sharing the goodness).
"The Business & Food Expo is a really exciting event that brings much-needed economic stimuli to our island," says coordinator Cameron Hiro.
"It attracts both island residents and visitors alike. Last year we hosted over 1,200 people."
Throughout the day, a number of Maui County chefs will create culinary items at various booths, all using grown or made- on-Molokai products.
"They're prepared in front of excited onlookers and offered for sale. We also feature headline entertainment as well showcase our very own local talents. What a treat for all!" adds Hiro.
"Hula Grill has done the expo the last five years, and this year we are adding Leilani's to the mix," says Scott McGill, executive chef of TS Restaurants in the islands. "Chefs Chris Schobel from Hula Grill and Ryan Ferguson from Leilani's are heading up the two teams. It is a real people event, and so fun."
Representing Aqua Hotel Molokai is Chef Sherwood Hiro. The hotel's Caribbean-born General Manager Michael Drew says they will roll out a new dinner menu some time in mid-December. The other chef participants include Maui Culinary Academy's program coordinator Dean Louie, as well as external coordinator Chris Speere.
"Molokai has a wealth of agriculture resources from farmers and growers to aquaculture and crafts," says Louie. "Every year, the island demonstrates this diversity through the annual Molokai Business & Food Expo."
Louie and the other chefs will be paired with particular farms, creating menu items that will be for sale. They will also demo cooking techniques for an audience that has grown over the nine years since the expo started.
"Besides enjoying the great food and music, guests can purchase added-value consumable items, original artwork and pottery, T-shirts and gift apparel and many other items that are manufactured exclusively on Molokai."
Food-related businesses on Molokai that will participate include Coffees of Hawaii, Hawaii Kai Corp. with gourmet sea salts; Kanemitsu's Bakery with fresh baked breads and pastries; Kumu Farms with organic papayas and fresh herbs; L&R Farms with purple and gold sweet potatoes; Molokai Meli with kiawe honey; Purdy's Nut Farm with macadamia nuts; Puu O Hoku Ranch with grass-fed beef, awa, certified-organic papayas and bananas; and Waialua Permafarm with fresh-grown vegetables.
Hawaii Kai's sea salts come in black, green, white, red and bamboo. Martha Stewart has said that, "Soul of the Sea is essential for cooking and baking and makes food taste more like itself." Jay Leno raves about it, too. The island's shrimp farm will also participate with its sweet crustaceans.
"The event also allows the youth from Molokai High School to cook and rub shoulders with the chefs and to showcase their ceramic art such as mugs," Hiro says. "They usually have about 10 tables with their goods. The teachers report that the students gain invaluable experiences from the expo and the whole event helps to raise the bar on sustainability for the Molokai businesses."