The second annual “Hawaii Rice Fest” is just around the corner, and organizers are promising that this year’s version of the event will definitely entertain rice lovers. Since we live in Hawaii and love rice, the festival should be a huge hit!
Ed Sugimoto, who is the founder of the Hawaii Rice Fest, can’t wait for the second time around. “I grew up in Hawaii as a second-generation Japanese-American,” Sugimoto said. “I used to eat four bowls of rice at every meal, and I often ate the rice that other family members couldn’t finish. With all the rice I ate, I’m surprised I don’t look like a sumo wrestler!”
Many of us can relate to this. Hawaii has a special love for rice, and it is very apparent by the amount of it we consume. “Rice is Hawaii’s most important food staple, and it’s consumed in some form or another by virtually all the ethnic groups that make up our melting pot,” Sugimoto said. “It deserves to have a day in the spotlight.”
Hawaii Rice Fest drew a great crowd last year during its first event. 1,500 people were drawn to the Aloha Tower Marketplace in downtown Honolulu. Sugimoto expects to more than double that amount of people this year. He says the event is preparing for at least 5,000 people this year, and he is fine with that, as the event has a lot of different activities planned to keep all the visitors entertained. To accommodate the amount of people expected, the event has moved to its new home, Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park.
The rice festival’s “guest of honor” will be the recently released “The Hawaii Book of Rice: Tales, Trivia and 101 Great Recipes.” Participants in the amateur and professional division cook-offs will be preparing the recipes they contributed to the book. A portion of all of the book’s sales goes to the Hawaii Foodbank, and a portion of sales made at the Rice Fest also will benefit Meals on Wheels.
There is a ton going on at the second annual Hawaii Rice Fest. Check out the calendar of events below. The festival is on September 11th from 10am-6pm.
Hawaii Rice Fest Itinerary
Magic Island, Ala Moana Beach Park
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 11
Drop off brown rice for Lanakila Meals on Wheels; white rice for the Hawaii Foodbank. Cash may also be donated. Watermark Publishing is offering free rice paddles to the first 25 donors for each charity.
- 10:15 a.m.: Jody Kamisato and Uke’s Rising Stars
- 11 a.m.: Cooking demonstration with chef Kent Thompson (formerly of Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab) and Hawaii News Now reporter Minna Sugimoto
- 11:30 a.m.: Amateur division cook-off (Tish Buhr, Loreen Matsushima, Mao Moeng, Joan Murata and Cathy Nobriga Kim)
- 12:30 p.m.: Professional division cook-off (Kent Thompson, Wayne Hirabayashi, Kahala Hotel & Resort; Santa Miyoshi, Tokkuri-Tei; Hector Morales, Turtle Bay Resort)
- 2 p.m.: Cooking demonstration, chef George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro and freelance writer Catherine Toth, journalism instructor at Kapiolani Community College
- 2:30 p.m.: Taiko drum performance by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii
- 3 p.m.: Ukulele performance by Bruce Shimabukuro
- 4 p.m.: Cooking demonstration, chef Craig Erickson, Sea House Restaurant, Napili Kai Beach Resort and KHON weather anchor Justin Cruz
- 4:30 p.m.: Weighing of the largest Spam musubi in the world
- 5 p.m.: Spam musubi-eating contest
Other Rice Fest Activities Available:
- Keiki Zone: Balloon twisting, crystal tattoos, obstacle course and “bouncies.”
- Narcissus Festival Court will be there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Live Tweetup/Scavenger Hunt: Twitter enthusiasts will compete to be first to photograph and post festival activities.
- Rice Education booth: Assistant Professor Maria Stewart and her colleagues from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Human Nutrition.
- Food and Animal Science department are sponsoring this booth where you can take an interactive quiz; learn about the nutritional value of rice and view samples of common rice varieties consumed in Hawaii.