First Saturday in Kapa’a

Established on the lush, and volcanic western slopes of the Big Island, Coffee Times owner, Les Drent, roasted, and sold his first pound of Kona coffee in 1993. Five years later, Les moved his Coffee Times roasting operation to the beautiful island of Kauai, and established the Blair Estate shade grown, organic coffee farm in 2001. While his passion for farming is now deeply rooted in the Kauai soil, he continues to be a strong proponent for the preservation of 100% Kona coffee.

First Saturday in Kapa’a
By: Lois Ann Ell

September 7, 2012

What started out as a small monthly gathering a few years ago, Kapa’a town’s “First Saturdays” of the month have become a boon for businesses and a monthly social event for community and visitors alike. When the recession hit a few years ago, it prompted people to focus on supporting their local economy as a sustainable way for businesses to stay afloat. “First Fridays” has been going on for years on O’ahu with success, and every Friday in Hanapepe on the west side of Kaua’i has offered an Art Night event for years.

First Saturday t-shirts to benefit the community event

Retail owner and clothing designer Angelique Ell who runs a store in Kapa’a (full disclosure: yes, she is my sister-in-law) wanted to start something similar on the east side. Along with a few other business owners in the area, in November 2009 they started what was at first called the Kapa’a “Art Walk.” In the beginning, a few businesses stayed open late, and a handful of artists set up on the street outside the shops and sold their artwork. A couple musicians showed up to play acoustic music, some shops offered complimentary bites to eat. Now, almost three years later, the monthly event has turned in to somewhat of a phenomenon.

This past Saturday in August was possibly a record for the event, with throngs of people filling the streets. Vendors had tables set up all along the main strip in Kapa’a Town, selling everything from avocados and passion fruit from their yard to photographs of Kaua’i landscapes to paintings, handmade crafts, games, magazines, clothing, and more. The balmy weather made for an especially pleasant atmosphere—many a rainy winter or spring months has often left the event with only a handful of people as it is all outdoors and the small awnings off the storefronts offer little coverage for the vendors and their tables.

For one vendor, Pam, it was her first time setting up at First Saturday, and she sold her “Choco Tacos,” a chocolate-covered taco shell filled with bananas and homemade whip cream. A baker and cook for many years, she decided to try out this new recipe of hers down in Kapa’a town. She had nearly sold out by 7:30 p.m. Technically First Saturday is billed as running from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., but many people stay late into the night if things are going well, sometimes 11:00 p.m.

Throngs of people flocking to First Saturday in Kapa'a

Another vendor, “Scuba Dave” was set up as always, selling his matted photos of underwater sea life, including monk seals, turtles and fish. He has set up a booth at First Saturday (he also is in Hanapepe every Friday) in front of Angelique’s shop since its inception back in 2009. Nancee McTernan, the owner of Island Hemp & Cotton, has turned the monthly event into an opportunity for local authors to have a platform for their work. Each month she hosts an author to perform a reading and book signing after. This past week she hosted author Aggie Martikini, author of the beautiful historical book titled “Anahola,” filled with photos and stories of the Hawaiian town.

First Saturday continues to grow. There is an official group which oversees the event now, made up of business owners in the area. They were out as well, selling promotional t-shirts at a booth to raise funds for the growing event, which has stimulated the economy, allowed burgeoning artists, chefs, and many other entrepreneurs to blossom, while giving locals and visitors a positive cultural and social experience each month.

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