Lions, dragons and drums celebrate Chinese New Year

  • Asian Fest at Queens’ MarketPlace is one of several free Chinese New Year celebrations taking place in North Hawaii between Jan. 28-Feb. 4. (COURTESY PHOTO)
    Asian Fest at Queens’ MarketPlace is one of several free Chinese New Year celebrations taking place in North Hawaii between Jan. 28-Feb. 4. (COURTESY PHOTO)

NORTH HAWAII — North Hawaii welcomes the Year of the Rooster with dynamic drums, dancing and food at numerous free activities celebrating Chinese New Year and colorful Asian cultural traditions throughout the region beginning this Saturday.

In Waimea, the celebration commences with a free Dragon Dance event presented by Lee Walczuk at Thelma Parker Library on Saturday from 1-3 p.m. As an artist, filmmaker, teacher, puppeteer and storyteller, he annually brings his large dragon to the library for the community to see. Actually a large paper maché mask with a long, fringed fabric tail, the dragon is manipulated by people inside. Those outside are invited to play instruments, dance and participate in the music.

On the Kohala Coast, both Queens’ MarketPlace and The Shops at Mauna Lani will host elaborate events in honor of the New Year, with food, music and dance.

Asian Fest at Queens’ MarketPlace will take place Feb. 3 from 5-8 p.m., featuring the enthusiasm and skill of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko to kick off the entertainment. A highlight every year, traditional lion dancers and clattering drum escorts parade through the shopping center to bring good fortune to all. At every stop, large, colorful lions leap and dance, interacting with onlookers and eating lucky red envelopes with monetary donations for good fortune.

Food is another important feature of Asian Fest, and visitors will get the chance to taste chefs’ specialties from 12 different restaurants there, while they last. Asian Fest is a free event as a gift to the community from Queens’ MarketPlace and Waikoloa Beach Resort.

The Shops at Mauna Lani extends the celebration through Feb. 4, with the 4th Annual Fortune Festival from 5-8 p.m. Attendees can watch a performance by the lion dancers from Big Island Shaolin Arts, enjoy the premier of “Tales of the Jade Emperor” by the martial arts students of Mo Mien Kuen Monkey School, and other martial arts and fire blowing demonstrations. Costume contests for keiki and teens, fortune readings with the I Ching, and a Chinese Dragon display for picture-taking are a variety of ways to participate in the festivities.

In addition to a Chinese cooking demonstration, foods will be available for purchase during the festival including Chinese noodles, shrimp chips, poke nachos and crispy wontons. The Fortune Festival is free, and additional event parking will be available with continuous shuttle service during the event.

The 10th sign of the Chinese zodiac, and 4,714th year of the lunar calendar, the Year of the Rooster is said to be beneficial for those ready to work hard in business and relationships.

Info: Waimea Dragon Dance event call Susan Collins at 887-6067 or email susan.collins@librarieshawaii.org. For Asian Fest visit www.queensmarketplace.net or call 886-8822. The Shops of Mauna Lani information can be found at www.theshopsatmaunalani.com, or by calling 885-9501

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