WAILKU, Maui, HI – This week, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Chamber of Commerce announced the 130 vendors who will be participating in the 2014 Made in Maui County Festival. Considered the largest product vendor show in Maui County, this inaugural event will offer a wide variety of made in Maui County products – including foods, produce, art, crafts, jewelry, fashion, gifts, collectibles and more – plus demonstrations and food trucks ALL in one location!
Held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului, the event will kick-off on Friday, November 7, with an invitation-only event for retailers and wholesalers. On Saturday, November 8, the event will be open to the public from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Public admission is $3, children 12 and under are free.
“This Festival was created to help grow our islands’ businesses,” said County of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “There’s such incredible talent here at home and we’re hoping to open doors for these hard-working entrepreneurs by providing opportunities for them to meet with prospective retailers and wholesalers and connect with new customers. Our small businesses are the backbone of our islands’ economy and their success will ultimately benefit our community at-large.”
For a complete listing of the vendors along with a list of the products offered, visit www.MadeInMauiCountyFestival.com/vendors-list.
Originally limited to 102 vendors, the Festival increased the total amount of booth spaces to over 130 in an effort to accommodate the high demand. Vendor space is now completely sold out and there is a waiting list.
This year’s vendors had to meet certain criteria in order to participate, including having their business based in Maui County, products being offered for sale also had to meet a minimum 51% Hawaii value-added valuation. The event’s product mix, quality and creativity value of products were also considered during the selection process by this year’s event committee. Over 150 businesses met the event’s application requirements to be considered.
“We held four informational meetings earlier this year to answer questions from business owners about the event,” said Teena Rasmussen, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. “We also continue to receive hundreds of emails and calls from businesses, residents and visitors looking to attend this year’s event. It’s been extremely gratifying to see the overwhelming response from our community ranging from event sponsors who make the event financially possible to local businesses and individuals wanting to encourage entrepreneurship in the islands.”
Patterned after the successful Made in Hawaii Festival on Oahu, which annually attracts more than 35,000 attendees, Maui County’s own version hopes to capitalize on the successful formula used by their Oahu counterpart. Maui County’s event organizers are conservatively estimating approximately 8,000 visitors and residents attending their Festival in November.
For artist Kenneth Hiraoka of Hawaiian Carvings, whose hand-carved fish hooks, poi pounders and other collectibles can be seen at local galleries, the Festival offers an opportunity to showcase his Hawaiian heirlooms to a broader audience of residents and visitors.
“I believe that many of the people attending this product show will be looking for something different – something that represents our islands,” said Hiraoka. “This venue offers an excellent opportunity to share my artwork and our island’s host culture.”
Then, there are those like Made in Hawaii Festival veteran Michael Kilinski of Maui Jelly Factory, who is looking to expand the market share for his company’s jams, jellies, mustard, sauces, syrups, salad dressings and candy products.
“It doesn’t matter whether you started your business one year ago or decades ago – entrepreneurs who want to succeed long-term must get out there and connect with their customers,’ said Kalinski. “That’s one of the reasons why events like this Festival are so important. They help create opportunities and offer a vehicle for local businesses to get the word out about our products. I hope this Festival will become an annual tradition in Maui County.”