HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Merrie Monarch Director Auntie Dottie Thompson passed away Friday. The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival is an annual competition held in Hilo. The first competition was held in 1964. In 1968, Thompson became chairperson of the event.
Thompson was 88 years old.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is a domestic non-profit organization registered with the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Begun forty-seven years ago by the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and continued by the private Merrie Monarch Festival community organization, the major purpose of the festival is the perpetuation, preservation, and promotion of the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture through education. The festival is considered the world's premier forum for people of all ages to display their skills and knowledge of the art of ancient and modern hula.
The annual presentation of the Merrie Monarch Festival has led to a renaissance of the Hawaiian culture that is being passed on from generation to generation. The week-long festival includes art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a parade that emphasizes the cultures of Hawaii, and a three-day hula competition that has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance.
Through the celebration of the Merrie Monarch Festival, thousands of people in Hawaii and throughout the world are learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is committed to: 1) Perpetuating the traditional culture of the Hawaiian people; 2) Developing and augmenting a living knowledge of Hawaiian arts and crafts through workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and performances of the highest quality and authenticity; 3) Reaching those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate; and, 4) Enriching the future lives of all of Hawaii's children.
In preparation of the Merrie Monarch Festival, hula studios and instructors in Hawaii and on the U.S. Mainland hold classes, workshops, and seminars throughout the year to teach the art of hula, the meaning of Hawaiian chants and songs, the Hawaiian language, the making of Hawaiian clothing and crafts, and the history of the Hawaiian people.
Through this ongoing year-round learning process, students also gain a knowledge and appreciation of the unique harmony and balance the ancient Hawaiian people maintained with their island environment. The chants, songs and dance tell stories of the Hawaiians' relationship with nature-the birds and fish, trees and flowers, mountains, oceans, rivers, wind, rain and Hawaii's active volcanoes.
Proceeds from the Merrie Monarch Festival support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars, symposiums and the continuation of the festival.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is the focal point and catalyst that supports and draws together an extensive network of instructional hula studios, hula masters, instructors, researchers, professors of Hawaiian studies and students of all ages who are committed to the perpetuation and advancement of the Hawaiian history and culture.
Hawaii News Now's Malika Dudley and Photojournalist Jon Suyat are in Hilo gathering more reaction from Hilo. Stay tuned to Hawaii News Now at 5:00 p.m. for the very latest.