But minutes after facing the more than 400 of them (each craftier than you) you are completely overwhelmed. Instead of charging at full speed, you wandered blindly through a few booths, lost your friends in the masses, then made a hasty and unsatisfying retreat.
Don’t let the Made in Hawaii Festival beat you again. We asked organizers for tips to ensure your trip to the largest gathering of local artisans ends in retail victory.
Go Against the Flow
The best times to avoid the crowds are when the doors open every day at 10 a.m., or dinner time Friday and Saturday.
Cash and Carry
Always ask about special festival prices since many vendors do offer deals for the three-day event. Most accept credit cards and checks, but some do not supply bags so bring your own. If you’re buying gifts for friends on neighbor islands or the mainland you can pack and ship it off at the UPS Booth.
Map it Out
Plan your attack before you get there. The August Honolulu Magazine features a full floor plan and the only full list of vendors identified by what they are selling such as jewelry, food, or accessories. The Made in Hawaii Festival’s website will link you to each of their sites so you can find your favorite items before you arrive.
There are more than 50 new vendors this year. Here are a few worth checking out.
Hana Lima Hand Dyes
Hand-dyed silk scarves in delicate designs from the Big Island.
North Shore Goodies
Organic honey, tropical syrups and jams, but its claim to fame (and rightly so) is the coconut peanut butter and chocolate coconut peanut butter using not only local coconuts, but Big Island grown peanuts.
Unusual and delicious flavors are packed into small, artisanal style batches of chocolate from local and Mexican-grown beans, making it one of Lei Chic’s picks earlier this year. Candied hibiscus or pink peppercorn and sea salt anyone?
Pork Grinds Hawaii
One of our Father’s Day gift picks, the Aiea-based company creates teriyaki, kim chee, furikake, salt and vinegar, and seven other island-favorite flavors to shake up their fried snacks. Beware: don’t try the lava bbq without a drink nearby.
Rainbow Ridge Farm
Luxurious soaps made from the milk of Maui-bred goats scented with locally-grown oils such as lavender, kukui, and tangerine.
Original designs hand stenciled on organic fabrics for a chic, eco-friendly fashion statement.
South Swell Bakery
Macadamia nut rum cakes and more baked goods from the Big Island bakery.
The Made in Hawaii Festival is this weekend at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena. Doors are open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4 but you can get a $1 off coupon at First Hawaiian Bank Branches.