Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

In Autumn, Thoughts Turn to Hawai`i

Royal PoincianaThe other day, I stumbled across a YouTube video tribute to Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo`ole (more on Iz below). And it got me to thinking fondly about Hawai`i because I traditionally have visited the islands almost every autumn since 1986 — although not this year.

My choice of this time of year was partly because fewer tourists visit in autumn. Winter is busy with snowbirds from the mainland and Canada, seeking refuge from the winter chills. Summer is surprisingly busy because families are reluctant to take their kids out of school during the school year. That leaves spring and autumn. And spring starts after the Easter break and ends when school lets out.

Another factor in my choice is...

Maui County Fair Ferris Wheelthe Maui County Fair! For the uninitiated, this is the oldest and best fair in Hawai`i — better than the state fair even. Since Maui does not have a major family attraction like a Disneyland or even a Sea Life Park (on Oahu), this is the biggest event of the year. It is traditionally held on the first full weekend in October — which is this last weekend — however, I discovered that this year it was held the previous weekend. Darn, I missed it.

Maui County Fair Merry-Go-RoundOf course there are rides for the kids and games for young and old — just like what you would find at a county or state fair on the mainland.

But being Hawai`i, they do it just a bit differently.

Maui County Fair Chow Fun BoothTo start with — the food. Yes, you will find hot dogs and burgers and french fried twinkies — but so much more. In fact, when I lived on Maui, all our friends would meet at the chow fun booth.

What is "chow fun" you ask — it's noodles with bits of pork and vegies. So "ono" as they say in Hawai`i. Curiously, I did a quick Google search on chow fun and found this quote — "My favorite is the kind I used to get at the County Fair on Maui in the cone cups". It was some sort of blog and a later contributor even provided the Maui County Fair recipe.

Not only chow fun, we could also get teriyaki, maui-style Korean ribs, Malasadas — all the local grinds. If you are interested, you can see a full list — just click here.

Maui County Fair OrchidsAnother Hawai`ian-style difference is found in the 4-H competition. On the mainland, you might find kids competing raising corn or apples or sheep. At the Maui County Fair, you see many of these plus bananas, papayas, starfruit, macadamia nuts, chickens, long-eared rabbits.

But my favorite attraction at the Maui County Fair has always been the orchid show. With the blessing of a wonderful tropical climate, orchids thrive on Maui. And thus the competition for ribbons is fierce — with each grower (some professional, some amateur) trying to outdo everyone else with elaborate displays and huge splashes of blossoms — and even the most exotic flowers.

And the Orchid Club of Maui sells orchids at rediculously low prices. Since I would try to plan my trip so that it coincided with the beginning of the Maui County Fair, I would buy a nice orchid plant with a lovely spray of flowers — take it back to my condo and enjoy it for the remainder of my stay. When time to depart, I would give the still-flowering plant to the maid or to the front desk as a Mahalo for special efforts to make my stay extra pleasant.

Ah, I can close my eyes and I am there.
Back to Iz. The late Israel Kamakawiwo`ole was a singer from Hawai`i of Hawai`ian decent. He was a huge man with a gentle way and a cheerful, positive disposition — earning him a nickname of "The Gentle Giant".

His high singing range and exemplary ukulele skills brought initial success to the Makaha Sons of Ni`ihau of which he was a part from 1976 throughout the 1980s. In 1990, Iz released his first solo album Ka`ano`i, which won him awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA).

His career skyrocketed and he became one of the most beloved singers in Hawai`i. Tragically, through the latter part of his life, he was morbidly obese which lead to his death in 1997 at age 38. All of Hawai`i mourned his passing with the Hawai`i State Flag flying at half-staff on July 10, the day of Iz's funeral. His koa wood coffin lay in state at the Capitol building in Honolulu — only the third person in Hawai`ian history to be accorded this honor (the other two were Governor John A. Burns and Senator Spark Matsunaga) and the only non-politician. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12.

Circling back to my introduction, the video tribute to Iz features one of his best-known, best-loved songs — and my favorite as well. The final scenes in the video brought a tear to my eye — it may do the same to you. You can view the video by clicking here. Iz, we miss you.

 Life is good.

 B. David