The first Puna Ulu Festival took place Saturday, March 3 at Hooulu Lahui, the site of Kua O Ka La Public Charter School at Pualaa, adjacent to the Ahalanui County Park warm ponds in Puna.
Despite islandwide rain, the weather at Pualaa was clear, and the event was attended by about 1,200 people.
More than 800 people enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch donated and prepared by Team Paiea of Kamehameha Schools and Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division featured Ulu Stew (beef and vegetarian), Warabi and Ulu Salad and Ulu Bread Rolls.
Fourteen people entered the cooking contest with a variety of unique recipes — from Aina Lasagna to Ulu and Cod Fish Salad.
Winners of the cooking contest are as follows:
* Appetizer: 1st – Genji Nakada, Hilo – Breadfruit Chips; 2nd – Honey Burns, Pahoa – Ulu dip; 3rd – Piilani Chavez, Hilo – Ulu & Cod fish Salad.
* Entree: 1st – Ann Kobsa, Pahoa – Ulu Purial; 2nd – Kua O Ka La School, Pualaa – Ulu Quiche; 3rd – Celeste Aleah, Pahoa – Aina Lasagna
* Desserts:1st – Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes, Pahoa – Punana Cookies; 2nd – Eno Gerard, Panaewa, Hilo – Ulu Custard Pie; 3rd – Courtney Spalding-Mayer Nakada Farms, Kapoho – Ulu Ice Cream
* Best of Show: Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes – Punana Cookies
Healthiest Choice: Ann Kobsa – Ulu Purial
Winners took home prizes including Tahitian Style Quilts from Kaoo Designs in Waikoloa and an assortment of gifts from Abundant Life Natural Foods, Hawaiian Force, Cafe Pesto, Sig Zane and Hawaiian Images of Aloha giclee prints from Suzy Papanikolas.
Many people were seen walking around with breadfruit trees they purchased and children had their faces painted in fanciful ways.
The public enjoyed cultural activities throughout the day—including traditional ulu poi pounding with Anakala Isaiah Kealoha, making poi boards from ulu wood with Keone Turalde and tapa pounding from ulu bark with Kauhane Ben Heloca.
Chef Casey Halpern from Cafe Pesto demonstrated the preparation of an Ulu Fritter with Ohelo Reduction Sauce and Shirley Kauhaihao, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner from Kona demonstrated how to make Ulu Taro Salad.
Uncle Keikialoha Keikipi conducted a ceremonial ulu tree planting that commemorated the 10-year anniversary of Kua O Ka La PCS.
The Puna Ulu Festival was sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Hooulu Lahui, Kua O Ka La Public Charter School, Hawaii Homegrown Food Network and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
The Puna Ulu Festival is a part of a larger statewide effort to revitalize breadfruit for food security called Hooulu ka Ulu.
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