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Maui County Fair, Orchid Show

As many of you recall, one of my favorite things to do on Maui is visit the County Fair — and my favorite thing at the Fair is definitely the Orchid Show. I must admit that the exhibition is not as big as it used to be. Perhaps the commercial growers are not as engaged or maybe there are fewer of them still in business — who knows? But the variety of orchids this year is easily on par with years past, maybe even better.

This photo is of a Phalaenopsis, one of the easiest orchids to grow, one of the most beautiful and its flowers are long-lasting. They are also quite reasonable in price. In previous years when I attended the Fair at the beginning of my vacation, I would often buy one from the Orchid Club to enjoy in our condo then give it to our maid or front desk as a "thank you" for wonderful service. This year the Fair was at the end of my visit — too bad.

When we get into the more exotic varieties, I don't know the names but these look like they should be called "spider orchids", don't you agree?

These I will call Sun Devils because they display the colors of Arizona State University.

I don't recall ever seeing a variety like this — small and compact with two-tone flowers. Most unusual.

The next orchid is spectacular, in my opinion, due to the two shades of purple in each flower. It almost glows.

This one was labeled as Black Orchid. To my eye, it looked like a deep purple but quite unusual none the less.

I would name this beautiful spray of flowers a Fish Net orchid because of the pattern exhibited on the flowers.

Blue flowers are uncommon, blue orchids even less common. To me this variety is straight out of the movie Avatar.

I have seen these before but never noticed the name. Perhaps I'll call this one the Shrimp Tail orchid.

Now this one is very exotic — the flower does not resemble any other orchid I have ever seen — although the leaves look orchid-like. Maybe I'll call this one the Dandelion orchid.

This orchid is incredibly beautiful, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I'm tapped out on ideas for names. Feel free to supply your own.

Wait, this is not an orchid although it is on the end of the orchid exhibition area. This is sugar cane. Looking to the left, I noticed a special display commemorating the end of sugar production on Maui.

The photo below was accompanied by the following text.

The end of the Sugar Cane Era in Hawaii
By Brenton Awa


The year 2016 will mark the end of an era in Hawaii. After 180 years in the state, the sugar industry is shutting down. Hawaii's last remaining plantation is phasing out its sugar operations this year. As the industry goes away, so do the jobs.

The Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company on Maui said it'll be laying off 675 employees by the end of this year. What was once the foundation of Hawaii's economy will soon be history.

"If you told somebody in 1950, when sugar was the absolute foundation of the entire economy in the Hawaiian Islands, that the day was going to come when sugar was going to end they would not have believed you, it would be impossible to comprehend, and here we are," said DeSoto Brown, a historian at Bishop Museum.

Brown said Wednesday's announcement was momentous. He points out how sugar cane not only re-shaped our land by way of water diversions and the vast amount of farm lands needed for growing, but Brown says to look at the people who live here.

"The reason the Hawaiian Islands' population is so diverse is primarily because of the sugar industry", says Brown.

The company says the cuts will start in March.

"I certainly am hopeful that they will find great opportunities and in the long run this will be a positive thing but we're certainly not seeing a lot of silver lining other than the fact that we remain committed to our employees and we're going to do what we can to make this as minimally painful as possible", said Christopher Benjamin, President of Alexander & Baldwin. He said his company has made every effort to avoid layoffs but it expects to incur a $30-million operating loss for 2015.

"We've always taken a very long-term view of the business. We've lost money in the past and not chosen to shut down the plantation or cease sugar operations but in this case we saw more of the same in our future. So while we lost money in the past, we've always sought out toward recovery and, in this case, we frankly did not", said Benjamin.

Moving forward, the company says it will be transitioning its 36,000-acre plantation on Maui towards smaller farms and varied agricultural uses, potentially including food and energy crops, cattle and the development of an agriculture park where residents would be able to grow crops.

"All this contention that's been building regarding water rights and cane burning, that's pau [finished] now and now we can move forward together and it's a real opportunity for a new unity on our island", said Representative Kaniela Ing (D), Kihei, Wailea, Makena.

Looking back at history, the production of sugar cane in 2014 was down to 1.3 million tons. It's been dropping steadily every year since 1982 when Hawaii was producing nearly 9 million tons of sugar cane. Some industry insiders believe the end of sugar cane in Hawaii was inevitable.

"It's going to be a hard transition so I think that compassion has to be given because it's been generations of families in the sugar plantation and it's unique — it's like no other industry", said Donna Domingo, President of ILWU.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com