Many of you Oahuans have heard of the Hawaii State Farm Fair. But have you heard of the Maui County Agricultural Festival? This past weekend was the Valley Isle’s sixth annual ag fest, and I was fortunate to get an invitation from Dania Katz at Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine to come over for the day to experience it.
Maui residents are lucky — they have so many talented chefs and an abundance of agriculture, that they can really create some amazing farm-to-fork experiences. So when you have an agricultural festival like this one, to show off just some of the bounty they offer, it blows whatever Oahu has out of the water. Not only is the produce fresh and delicious, it’s bountiful and gigantic, as you’ll see in the following photos. I would have bought more if I could carry more, or thought I could fit it all into my fridge.
As you know, I’ve been to Maui a lot over the last few years, but this is clearly the biggest event for its residents. I know this because I saw many of the Maui people that I’ve met there, plus I met many old-time Twitter friends for the first time. And there were friends from Oahu, as well, so it was like one huge tweet up. I was there from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and still didn’t get to see everything; you could spend hours in the ag tent, hours in the education tent, and of course a full three or four hours eating the food from the grand tasting. On top of that, since I was talking story with so many people, that slowed my progress down — I mean that as a good thing, because it was really great to see so many friends in one place.
I took so many photos, I had to split this blog into two galleries. If you want to see all of my photos from the day, click here. If you want to see everyone’s instagrams, which includes a lot of stuff that I missed (like the livestock, the live chef’s challenge, and the entertainment), click here. Most people said that it was the biggest ag fest so far, not just in participation, but in attendance. I could easily have spent a few more hours there or come back for a second day. As macrobiotic chef Leslie Ashburn said, “It was like a farmer’s market on steroids.”
The highlight of the event is the Grand Taste Education, where 12 Maui chefs were paired with 12 Maui farmers to create exquisite little plates. Although the festival doesn’t have an entry fee, this part of the event was $30, and well worth it. I was only able to eat nine items in the few hours we had to graze, and I’m pretty sure I can eat a lot. How does such a tragedy happen? Oh, well, I guess there’s always next year.
The descriptions of the dishes was too long for me to type out, so I used Vine (a video app similar to Instagram) to record the offerings at each booth. I was only able to grab 10 of the 12 booths (the other two were getting mobbed by hungry customers), but this was a fun way to see if they could tell us what they were serving in six seconds or less.
And, finally, here are photos — so many photos! — of the people and vendors we saw at the festival. Again, if you want to see them all, click here.