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Annual Cherry Blossom Festival is Feb. 1

The 21st annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has a full lineup of free multicultural performing arts and hands-on demonstrations, and nearly 150 crafters and food booths, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at various venues sprawling through town. Pink banners will identify site locations.

Festival parking is available at Parker Ranch Center, the soccer field across Church Row Park and Parker School. Three festival shuttles offer free transportation among venues. A map of the shuttle route and festival venues is available at each venue location and distributed January 30 in the North Hawaii News.

This year’s festival art showcases the impressionistic art of Keauhou-Kona resident Rani Denise Ulrich. The 11-by-17-inch event poster features Ulrich’s impressionistic painting, “Love These Cherry Blossoms!” The $10 posters, along with the original 18-by-24 painting, can be purchased at the Firehouse Gallery or by calling 887-1052. Posters go on sale Jan. 29.

Organized by members of the upcountry community and the county’s department of parks and recreation, the festival marks the blooming of the historic cherry trees at Church Row Park and celebrates the age-old Japanese tradition of hanami, which translates to “cherry blossom viewing party.” After a seasonal winter chill, the trees typically are blooming in February.

This year’s festival is dedicated to Waimea residents Emiko Wakayama and Fumi Bonk. The women, who both have Japanese heritage, will be recognized at the festival’s opening ceremony. Time is 9 a.m. on the main entertainment stage at the rear of Parker Ranch Center.