Hawaiian News: Merrie Monarch Festival - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian News: Merrie Monarch Festival

Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti
Kimo Kahoano Kimo Kahoano

HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Would you believe that the original Merrie Monarch Festival didn't include a step of hula? Well it's true. Amy Kalili reminisces the early days of the festival with Kimo Kahoano and Skylark Rossetti.

Ua ulu mai ka manaʻo no ka hoʻolauleʻa mai loko mai o ka ʻimi kaʻakâlai e hoʻoikaika ʻia aku ka ʻekonomia o Hilo kaona ma hope o ke kai hoʻçʻe o ka makahiki 1961.

The idea for a festival was Hawaiʻi County's solution to a much-needed economic boost for Hilo after the tsunami in 1961.

What they came up with was the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in honor of King David Kalâkaua. Now it wasn't a festival of hula that we know of today.

Skylark Rossetti

Former Emcee, Merrie Monarch

A ʻaʻole naʻe like ia hoʻolauleʻa me ka mea e kû nei i kçia mau lâ.

ʻAe. ʻAʻole nô paha kamaʻâina ka mea i hoʻokumu ʻia i ka makahiki 1964 i ka nui loa o ka poʻe e naue aku ana i Hilo i kçlâ me kçia Malaki no nâ ʻano hanana like ʻole o ia pule Mele Manaka.

The first festival in 1964 would be unrecognizable to the many who attend Merrie Monarch today.

It was a beard contest. It was a barbershop quartet. It was an opportunity to share the royalty of the court.

He hoʻokûkû ʻumiʻumi a pçia nâ hui hîmeni pâhâ. A ua loaʻa pû ke alo aliʻi. 

A ua loaʻa pû kahi inu, ʻoiai ʻo ia ka "Merrie Monarch" i makemake i ka inu.

It was all a party. It was having a great time. Ok, weʻll get through this and then we all going to the Crown Room. Kekoa Fernadez is going to play Hawaiian music, we going have hula. We're going to celebrate. It's all going to be good.

Kimo Kahoano

Host, Merrie Monarch

He hoʻolauleʻa nô. Ua hui ma ka Crown Room, kahi e hoʻokani ai ʻo Kekoa Fernandez. Ua hula a nui ka leʻaleʻa.

Ua holo pçlâ no ʻehâ makahiki a ʻano emi mai ka nui o ka pîhoihoi.

That went on for four years, until the hype seemed to die out.

That's when Uncle George Nâʻope came up with hula. Since Kalâkaua revived the hula lets bring a hula competition to the event. And so he flew to Honolulu and begged all the kumu that he knew to bring their hâlau.

Ua noʻonoʻo ʻo ʻAnakala George Nâʻope i ka hula ʻoiai nui ko Kalâkaua kâkoʻo i ka hula. Ua kono aku ʻo ia i ko Honolulu.

A ʻo ko ʻAnakala George kôkoʻolua, ʻo ʻAnakç Dottie Thompson i aloha nui ʻia, ua lilo ʻo ia, ʻo ia ka luna hoʻokele a ua mâlama ʻia ka hoʻokûkû hula mua i ka makahiki 1971.

Uncle George's steadfast partner, the dearly loved Aunty Dottie Thompson, stepped in as executive director and the first hula competition was held in 1971.

It was on the floor of the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium. There was no stage like we know it today. They held up scorecards one to ten.

Ua mâlama ʻia ma Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium. ʻAʻohe ʻâwai a paʻa nâ helu ʻai ma nâ pepa nui.

The cultural responsibilities started to grow. The ʻôlelo grew, the hâlau grew, the kumu hula and their work and their art grew. Little did we know what was going to happen to Merrie Monarch.

ʻOi aku ka ʻike ʻôlelo a ulu ka ʻike o nâ hâlau. ʻAʻohe mahuʻi me kçia ana nô?

I hoʻomaka ma ke ʻano he mea ʻume malihini a hoʻoikaika ʻekonomia, ua lilo ia ʻo ia ka hoʻokûkû hula kaulana loa a puni ka honua.What began as a means to raise money has become the premier hula event.

ʻO wau no kçia ʻo Amy Kalili no Sunrise ma Hawaii News Now. Aloha.

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