Dedicated tikiphiles will already know this, but the East Coast's major annual tiki event, the Hukilau in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is coming to an end after 13 years. The next installment, in June 2014, will be the last.
It's a sad bit of news, even for those of us on the West Coast. The event may have taken place in Florida, but it draws performers and attendees from all over the country, including, this year, The Blue Hawaiians and The Smokin Menehunes, from California.
"It will be 13 years since The Hukilau debuted in Atlanta, honoring a historic Trader Vic's location," organizer and co-founder Christie White, better known as Tiki Kiliki, said in the press release for this final event. "We have called The Mai-Kai and Fort Lauderdale home ever since. The Mai-Kai will always continue to be that home for the many villagers that have attended since 2003 to experience an event that has hosted thousands of Tikiphiles from all over the world."
Wanting more information about why the event was ending, I emailed White for the story. She replied with the following Q&A, which was comprehensive enough I figured I might as well copy and paste the whole thing:
Why is this the last Hukilau?
This is the final year of The Hukilau as I am focusing on different aspects of her life and career. The Hukilau can be all consuming, even with the great team that I have to help me, it's time I dedicate time to my family and work.
In a nutshell, what are your feelings about the Hukilau ending?
I am very dedicated to The Hukilau but I feel that it's time to end this event and begin something new. I feel we have definitely done our job of impacting the preservation and awareness of the Mai-Kai all over the world which has always been our main goal with the event -- to keep the Mai-Kai and the spirit of Aloha alive and well!
Will this be the biggest and most extravagant Hukilau? Why or why not?
We definitely plan for this year to be The Hukilau to end all Hukilau's! We are starting with planning a 5 day extravaganza! We normally begin festivities on Thursday but this year we have decided to incorporate Wednesday as it always has been the Official/Unofficial Kickoff to those that have trickled in early to enjoy the Mai-Kai prior to the crowds arriving. There's a boat cruise planned on the Jungle Queen, 4 different symposiums ranging from Tiki cocktails to Hemmingway, Hula lessons and many more details that haven't yet made it onto the website!
Any additional comments?
You don't have to have a special event to go to the Mai-Kai. Many people can have their own Hukilau by spreading the word and telling others and spreading Aloha spirit. It continues to live at the Mai-Kai since 1956 and will continue much longer after we're gone. It is a rare experience to share The Hukilau with hundreds of people that love and appreciate the Mai-Kai and Polynesian Pop Culture -- I hope that everyone that ever wanted to make the pilgrimage chooses The Hukilau in 2014!