The Merrie Monarch Festival is a big celebration in Hawaii following Easter Sunday. Everyone gathers to Hilo to celebrate with so many activities wearing their Hawaiian dresses in honor of King David Kalakaua, the final king of Hawaii. During the king’s coronation that was held in front of the general public in the year 1883, there was hula dancing with striking Hawaiian dresses such as pa’u hula skirts and Hawaiian Muumuu’s. For many, the people of the Hawaiian Islands King David Kalakaua was the supporter of the arts as he spread his love for dance, music, singing and every form of colorful entertainment. He was then named the “Merrie Monarch.” Through his legacy the festival of this ideas and art is held in the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1964 the chairman of Hawaii, Helene Hale, pursued to bring back King David Kalakaua’s coronation festivities to be able to uplift the down spirits of the islands following the tidal wave and economic failure that they are experiencing. True enough it became a boost for the tourism of the islands as everyone became very inspired with the meaning to bring back the culture such as Hawaiian clothing and ancestry that the islands once had. In middle of the initial launch of the Merrie Monarch festival in 1964, administrative assistant Gene Wilhelm and promoter of activities George Naope arranged some events. There was a reenactment of the accedence of King Kalakaua, a King Kalakaua look-alike contest, a relay race, a barbershop quartet contest and a Grand Holoku Ball featuring bold and well-designed Hawaiian dresses and among other activities. However by the year 1968, there were problems faced by the islands again that affected their Merrie Monarch Festival. Dottie Thompson became the executive director of the festival and added one activity that made the Merrie Monarch Festival the prominent festival as we appreciate today. She worked with George Naope and Albert Nahalea to be able to put some fun Hawaiian dresses such as Muumuu’s and pa’u skirts into the festivities. In 1971, they launched a hula competition. Nine “wahine halau” or women joined the competition and the title Miss Hula was given to Aloha Dalire. In 1976, the hula competition was launched so that kane halau or men can also join in. Since then the Merrie Monarch Festival is considered as the most prestigious and sought after hula competition all over the world.
Now, the annual hula competition is held for three nights. The first night is a solo hula competition for women and men where they carry out hula kahiko or ancient hula and hula auana or modern hula. The second and third nights are for groups and schools. Hula kahiko is for the second night and hula auana is for the third night. The awards ceremony is held as the finale on the third night of the hula competition. The Merrie Monarch Festival is now broadcasted over television. There are some Internet sites that offer live streaming of the competition as well.
- “Simply Hula” but with high standards (and costs for competitors) (sfgate.com)
- The Merrie Monarch Festival, Big Island of Hawaii: the most coveted tickets in town (naturallyhi.com)
- Hilo flora inspires songs, stories and Sig Zane fashions (sfgate.com)
- Hawaii Travel News 05/02/2011 (hawaiilogue.com)
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Celebrates Merrie Monarch Festival with FREE Hawaiian Programs April 27 – 29 (damontucker.com)