Kona Coffee Festival
Hi all. This week's web page has been written by me- Valerie. Normally Gary would write about this week's adventure but I wanted a chance to brag about my family and the exciting week at the Kona Coffee Festival. The Kona Coffee Festival happens once a year and is about ten days long. It includes two parades, a picking contest, tours of coffee farms, a coffee princess pageant and the most important cupping competition where the best Kona coffee is picked. It is one of the oldest festivals on the island and is filled with a mixture of Japanese and Hawaiian traditions. It also falls in the middle of harvest season so it makes for some very tired farmers.
We have learned a lot about being coffee farmers but we are still out of the loop on some things. One of these things was the Kona Coffee Festival. We didn't quite know what was going on so we figured this year we would just check it out and next year we would get more involved. What is that old saying - The best laid plans... Well our festival experience started with Emily and her Strawn adventure gene.
We were looking over the festival schedule, trying to decide what we had time to do when Emily decided that she wanted to enter the picking contest. Emily is always surprising us with things like this. Not being one to squelch her ambition, I quickly made her a picking bucket out of a houseplant pot and string. She then went out in our coffee field and spent time watching our pickers, getting pointers and practicing at being a fast picker. The next day we woke up early in order to get to the competition sign-in at 7:30 in the morning. Emily was a little nervous and Gary told her she didn't have to do this if she didn't want to. She turned to him and said "Of course I am going to do it, sheesh." Her group didn't pick until 10:30 so she spent time with some other children building a human sized bird's nest out of mowed grass. When it was finally Emily's turn, she marched into the field and gave it her all, making sure she only got ripe cherry- no leaves or green. She didn't win the contest but all the keiki where given goodie bags by the coffee festival princess who wore a real crown. This of course thrilled Emily who went home and reenacted the whole thing with her Barbies while wearing her own princess crown.
Now Sarah is not much of a coffee picker. She would prefer to clean the house than pick coffee or work in the field. Yea for me- I hate cleaning house. Sarah chose not to participate in the picking contest so we figured that was the end of the festival involvement. Then Sarah's art class decided last minute to join in the festivities. They had made drama masks and Sarah wore hers in the Festival Parade. This parade is not a contest but rather a chance for anyone to march. We saw many of our friends including our neighbors Manny, Chris, and Justin. They had the coolest car and Manny brought his parrot. Behind them came Donkey Mill Art School with Sarah. This was Sarah's first time in a parade and she had a great time passing out candy and introducing her kumu (who was dressed as a gecko in a hula skirt) to all her friends.
The day of the judging was also the finals of the cupping competition so we headed down to look at our label and see what the judging was all about. Not only is it interesting to watch but you get to taste the coffee of the finalist. It was also a good opportunity to talk with many of the other coffee farmers.
We got there an hour or so early and couldn't decide if we should stick around to hear the winners of the competition or not. Gary had a lot of chores to do and pickers in the fields but we finally decided one more hour wouldn't hurt too much. It turns out that right before they announced the winners of the cupping they announced the label and website winners. First they went through the winners of the labels- nothing there. Our label is our brand not a picture so we didn't expect much. Then they announced the winners of the websites. I was hoping maybe a third and when we weren't called I figured that was that. No second place either. Then they called first place- Kona Earth, Gary Strawn, Owner and Designer. I was shaking so hard I could barely hold the camera. I couldn't remember how the stupid thing worked. Luckily I figured it out as Gary walked up and took his ribbon. It was wonderful to finally see him get some recognition for all the hard work he has done these last months. He spends all day taking care of the farm, building chicken coops and barns, then will come in and spend hours working on the website trying to think of new ways to make it better. What a great feeling to know that others see the hard work and give him kudos for it.
So that was our 2005 Kona Coffee Festival experience. Emily met a princess, Sarah was in a parade, and our website won first place. We are all very lucky. So go check out the rest of the website and buy some coffee!
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