We need funds in order to keep the Festival free for the public, as it has been for 25 years. Our mission and purpose is to provide awareness and education about Hawaiian and other South Pacific Islander cultures and heritage…we don’t want to charge admission.
Our 2020 event was cancelled less than 48 hours before opening to the public. Our event was totally set up: 3 giant stages, over 200 tents for food and crafts vendors, the large tents for our free family activities…all of it. In addition we had all the portapotties, dumpsters, and trashcans delivered and in their locations. Volunteers were on site to hang banners, place the chairs in front of stages, and set up tables for all our free activities. In 13 hours, the park was to be filled all day with more volunteers and a parade of over 250 vehicles moving in food, merchandise, and supplies.
The City of Tempe, our partner, had met that afternoon and assessed the risk to the public of holding large events in the light of the incredible rapidity of the Covid virus spread. By early evening, we were cancelled. It’s high Festival season in our area in March so there were multiple events in venues all over the Phoenix metro area…including baseballs’ Spring Training. In a matter of hours that Thursday afternoon things began to shut down locally and all over the Country.
For us, it was devastating. We spent the evening calling vendors, performers, sponsors, and volunteers and telling them not to come in the morning. Some were on the way from neighboring states, some were already here, and a few learned when they deplaned rom Hawaii that night. All that inventory and food…and no place to sell.
Our Board met that Sunday and felt it was the right thing to do for us to refund all vendor and sponsor fees. We paid our bills for all the equipment that was set up and supplies paid for. It took our income for the year and nearly wiped out the ‘cushion’ we had accumulated over our 25 years. But we weren’t totally broke. We are optimistic, determined, and we will return. Please help us.