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Hawaii County dedicates Merrie Monarch headquarters to festival’s matriarch

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 5:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - County of Hawaii dedicates the Merrie Monarch Festival’s headquarters to Aunty Dottie Thompson in celebration of what would’ve been the late director’s 100th birthday.

Hawaii County unveiled the new sign in front of the Aunty Dottie Thompson Hale at the corner of Kalanikoa and Piʻilani Streets.

Councilmember Sue Lee Loy introduced legislation dedicating the building to Thompson, which was passed by the Hawaii County Council in 2018.

“The Merrie Monarch office is really the anchor of the festivals and taking the time to truly name it after the matriarch of the festivals, was really an honor,” said Lee Loy. “It really was a gift for the bigger gift that Aunty Dottie gave our entire community.”

When nobody wanted to be the chair of the Merrie Monarch Festival in 1968, Thompson’s daughter, Aunty Luana Kawelu says her mom stepped up and volunteered because she didn’t want to see another Hawaiian event fall.

At the time, it was on the brink of folding.

“The Merrie Monarch festival is my mom’s legacy, she worked so hard, gave so much,” said Kawelu. “This building by it being named after her means a lot to us and it would have meant a lot to my mom.”

Before former Mayor Billy Kenoi granted the festival use of its current home back in 2009, organizers had no permanent home and regularly changed office spaces around Hilo.

Kawelu said she appreciates not having to worry about moving anymore

The festival will carry on its traditions on June 23-25.

There will be no live audience, but the competition will be broadcasted on K5 on July 1-3.

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