2014 Hawaii Hispanic Heritage Festival

The beautiful young ladies of  Ballet Folkloric Costa de Oro from San Francisco. Photo by Pomai

The 2014 Annual Hawaii Hispanic Heritage Festival was held on Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 10am to 6pm at Kapiolani Park, Waikiki.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, this free community-wide event featured Latin food booths, crafters, cultural exhibits, a keiki section, community/ health agencies and lots of entertainment. It regularly attracts up to 10,000+ people according to event officials.

Featured entertainment included the following:

“Ballet Folkloric Costa de Oro”, Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe Salsa Band, Rodney Perez & TropiJazz, Mariachi Loco, Ballet Del Club Cultural y Deportivo Bolivia, Sophia and Ivan Danzas Colombianas En Hawaii, Grupo Café Colombia Dancers, Yuki Komiyama Salsa Dance Teams (Fuego y Agua) and Soul Brazil Band, Zumba with Carolina Enriquez. Plus:
DJ Ever & DJ Jose, Jose Colina Aiza & Cuban Rueda/Salsa Dancers.
Photos courtesy of HispanicEventsHawaii.com

Following are photos I took of the event, which I was there from about 1:30 to3:30pm. Enjoy.

Puerto Rican wooden mortar & pestle called a “Pilon”, pronounced P-lon (it’s quite large)

Colombian Dancer

Colombian Dancer

The beautiful young ladies of Ballet Folkloric Costa de Oro from San Francisco.

Beautiful young lady of Ballet Folkloric Costa de Oro from San Francisco.

Flautas and Steak & Chicken Tacos

Flautas and Steak, Pork Carnitas and Chorizo Tacos

Specialty Hot, hot HOT! Sauces

Habanero and Ghost Pepper Hot Sauces…. someone call the fire department!

Soul De Cuba Lechon Asado and Black Beans Plate

A Puerto Rican Barbie Doll!


Carne Frite

Mammah’s Kitchen Pastele plate

Mammah’s Kitchen Empandas

Cuban Relleno De Papas

Hola Gato Rebote Tienda and Senor Elmo

A big crowd enjoying the entertainment at Kapiolani Bandstand

Salsa dancing lessons with audience volunteers

And how was it? As mentioned earlier, I arrived around 1:30pm and spent about 2 hours there. It was pretty crowded. I’d say about 75% of what it normally looks like at the Okinawan Festival, by far Hawaii’s largest culture festival. I think they could do a better job with the culture booth, such as dressing up mannequins in cultural attire from each Hispanic country represented at the festival. Otherwise you won’t get to see that unless you spend the entire day there to catch the performers in their outfits.

That said, the only performance I was able to catch in its entirety were the beautiful young ladies of Ballet Folkloric Costa de Oro from San Francisco (I added the first part of that name). They were fantastic, and so adorable! In fact, I have a video I captured of them, however it’s shot from a distance, so you can’t see that good. I really should have gone up on the steps in front the stage like the other photographers were doing. This also reminds me why I still need a DSLR as part of my food blogging tool kit.

The Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican food vendors had a decent variety to offer, including some unusual ethnic dishes, which is what I expect to find a good culture festival.

One unusual dish there I tried for the first time from Papa’s 2U called the Rellenos de Papa….

Papa’s 2U Rellenos de Papa. $5 each

These are basically mashed potatoes formed in a ball that’s stuffed with seasoned ground beef and then deep fried until lightly golden brown.  They also had a vegetarian version that’s stuffed with seasoned spinach and cheese. I had asked for the vegetarian Spinach Rellenos de Papa, however I mistakenly was given the seasoned beef version instead….

I didn’t feel like walking back to exchange it for the vegetarian version and settled with it. So how thisRellenos de Papa? Excellent! The ground beef’s seasoning had your typical Spanish flavor elements, while not being spicy hot at all. What really set it apart was the deep-fried lightly golden browned mash potato “masa”, which was su sabor es realmente bueno!  I’d like to try experimenting with this concept at home, stuffing it with things like sauteed mushooms and bell peppers. Stuffs like that. The only thing I didn’t get was the plain shredded green ‘n red cabbage and sliced radish it sat on, that had no sauce or dressing for it, yet it was enough that I didn’t want to waste it. So I ate it all up, plain as it was. Maybe I should have walked back to check if they forgot the dressing for it.

I also tried the Pasteles Plate…

Closer look at the Pastele…

Like Hawaiian Lau Lau, Puerto Rican Pasteles won’t win any food award for presentation, however its TASTE sure will! And Mammah’s Kitchen Pasteles was ROCKIN’ IT! This Pastele was money! Pretty much as good as “Hawaiian style” Pasteles gets.

And I’m glad it was, as it was the only thing justifying the $10 plate price, as the Gandules Rice and Bacalau Salad it was served with was pretty lame. The salted cod was bland, as was the “dressing” it was lightly covered with. The gandules rice was too dry. The flavor was good (not great), but most of all, it needed way more moisture. It also could have used some cubed pork in it for added flavor, which is how I make my Gandules Rice. I also use the Goya Sazon seasoning as well, which does the job quite well and so easy.

In retrospect, I wish I had tried the Flautas. I’ll look-up Serg’s and try it at their restaurant.

Wrapping it up, this was my first time at the Hawaii Hispanic Festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The entertainment featuring such diverse representation of the various Hispanic countries, along with the equally diverse ethnic food and fun crowd made it a great event.  Improve upon the cultural tent, and perhaps add a Hispanic “Country Market” selling related goods and this event would be outstanding!