KAILUA-KONA — Mango tree branches are hanging low, weighted down by the red, green and yellow jewels ripening in the warm sun as the smell of the luscious fruit fills the air in Kona.
These sights and that sweet smell can only mean one thing: Mango season is here and it’s time to celebrate the juicy stone fruit with the annual Mango Festival, now in its 11th year.
The free, zero-waste event, presented by Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, takes over Hale Halawai in Kailua-Village today. Themed, “Mangoes From Mars: You’ll Eat, You’ll Learn, You’ll Enjoy,” the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.-and-later event features an array of mango, demonstrations, presentations, vendors, experts, chefs, scientists, enthusiasts and more.
“We want people to know Hawaiian mangoes are out of this world,” said Randyl Rupar, president of the nonprofit Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, about this year’s space-based theme.
The first chunk of the day is devoted to the agricultural topics on mango, Rupar said, with demonstrations, presentations and more starting at 10:15 a.m. following an opening pule.
Harold Moody will take the stage first discussing mango grafting followed by Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association Executive Director Ken Love, who will discuss at 11:15 a.m. the history of mango in Hawaii, grove management and how to find the best variety for your property’s growing conditions. At 12:15 p.m., Jana Bogs, Ph.D., will present a piece on soil regeneration. Grafted mango trees will be available for purchase.
At 1 p.m. is mango food preparation and sampling of various types of “mango cuisine.” Rupar said four chefs will be serving their creations to attendees.
At 2 p.m., the festival transitions to music and entertainment with an array of talents taking the stage.
“I have Hale Halawai until 10 o’clock on Sunday, so I’m going to keep the entertainment going as long as I can,” Rupar added.
Headlining the afternoon is Dr. Tim’s Medicine Band, which will be performing songs from a variety of genres including blues, classic rock, folk, jazz, country and rock standards.
Performances by Maka Ukulele, Mr. Neill Mango Rap, Overtime and Native Record Bands will take the party until the doors must close.