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HAWAII Magazine Guide to Annual Hawaii Food Festivals


Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range

guide_Hawaii_food_festivalsIf you are going to meet a rancher or farmer on the Big Island, your best bet is the Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Taste of the Range began 15 years ago as a small adjunct to Field Forage Day, an event designed to educate ranchers on how to raise grass-fed stock. It’s grown into one of the most important food festivals in the Islands, one that draws a concentration of top-drawer chefs.

There’s a challenge here: Each chef is given a cut of meat, often one he or she has never served in a restaurant. The chefs rise to the challenge and try to outdo each other with dishes made from Big Island grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, goat, mutton and wild boar, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables from the Big Island’s farmers. The resulting gala draws 1,000 ranchers, farmers, restaurateurs and eager eaters to the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

Next festival: September 2011, www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com.


Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Coffee lovers can check out the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which stretches over 10 days and includes concerts, parades and even a Miss Kona Coffee scholarship pageant. There are coffee competitions, tastings and tours galore, as Kailua-Kona celebrates its 182-year coffee tradition.

Next festival: Nov. 4 to 13, 2011, www.konacoffeefest.com.


Kau Coffee Festival

The region of Kau, south of Kona, is up-and-coming coffee country as well, and has begun its own two-day Kau Coffee Festival, which includes recipe contests and entertainment.

Next festival: May 14-15, 2010, www.kaucoffeefestival.com.


Kona Chocolate Festival & Symposium

Chocolate! Do I have your attention? Chocolate is the Big Island’s newest crop, and the annual Kona Chocolate Festival & Symposium is an all-day affair of lectures and chocolate discussions, finishing with a gala in which chefs, both amateur and professional, offer samples of their best chocolate creations, some 25,000 pieces of them, brownies, mousses and ganaches, tortes and tarts, truffles and even plain old chocolate candies. If you never get enough chocolate, this is an event for you. 

Next festival: April 2, 2011, www.konachocolatefestival.com.


Kona Brewers Festival

Kona Brewers Festival

Finally, the annual Kona Brewers Festival draws 30 craft breweries, offering samples of 70 different ales and lagers, with more than two dozen restaurants dishing up Island-style food samples. Attendance is limited to 2,000 at the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel luau grounds, and tickets sell out fast.

Next festival: March 12, 2011, www.konabrewersfestival.com.

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