By Sonia R. Martinez Photos Sonia R. Martinez

As part of the Eat Hawai`i Island Grown challenge last year, the first Hamakua Alive! Fest was held late in October.

The event was the brainchild of Jim Reddekopp of the Hawaiian Vanilla Company and three other farmer friends, who were discussing the growing concerns of sustainability and the variety of foods that could already be found growing on the Hamakua Coast.

Showcasing the bounty of the area, the fair-like event was exciting and a lot of fun, with early promises of becoming the foodie happening on the east side of Hawai`i Island for years to come.

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This year, the second annual Hamakua Alive! Fest will take place, again in late October.

The festival showcases the best and most exciting of Hamakua’s agricultural products and local talent. Farmers and growers, producers and manufacturers, vendors and artisans… anyone who grows, produces or utilizes locally grown agricultural products will get together to celebrate the diversity and richness of the area.

Many of the exhibitors offer tastings in partnership with guest chefs who perform magic preparing delectable dishes using the locally grown produce and products. Food samples at the first event ran from $1 to $3 each for more-than-generous portions.

Once again, there will be live entertainment and a cooking contest. This year the event is looking for entries in the Pies & Cakes, Jellies & Jams and Soups & Breads categories.The recipes need to feature locally grown produce or locally manufactured products. For registration/ entry forms please contact any of the names given below.

If you farm, grow, produce, raise or are a manufacturer, supplier or vendor of locally grown produce or agricultural products, come and participate in demonstrating the region’s transition from “Plantation to Diversification.” (The Hamakua Region includes North Hilo to Waimea.)

Hamakua Alive! Fest: Saturday, October 25, on Hawai`i Island at the Paauilo Elementary and Secondary School from 9 am to 2 pm. Admission is free.

For more information on exhibiting or participating, please contact Wally Andrade, event coordinator, at 937-8599 or
walman1@hawaii.rr.com; or Jim Reddekopp, event chair, at 776-1771 or vanillakitchen@aol.com. For information on the cooking contest, email Sonia Martinez at cubanwahine@hawaii.rr.com.