The 61st Annual
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HILO, Hawaiʻi – March 12, 2020 – In light of safety and health concerns and after serious consideration, the organizers and sponsors of the 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival announced today that the event will not be held.

“This was such a hard decision to make,” said Merrie Monarch Festivals President Luana Kawelu, “but we could not risk the health and wellbeing of our community, hālau participants, vendors and the thousands of people who attend Merrie Monarch every year. In the end, we believe that keeping people healthy and safe must be the highest priority, and we all need to take on this kuleana in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19.”

Understanding the need to address hālau and visitor accommodations and transportation, Kawelu added, “please give our airlines and hotels a day or so to sort out details. This is such an undertaking for all of them – their willingness and cooperation to work with us is a saving grace. We will update our own festival information when details become available.”

“We respect the decision to cancel the 57th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, and we feel it’s the right thing to do to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chris Tatum, president & CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “HTA has been a longtime supporter of the Merrie Monarch festival and looks forward to the return of this important cultural event in the future.” 

“I am one hundred percent in support of the cancellation of this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival. As a Kumu, I am responsible for the wellbeing of my haumāna, their families, and especially of their kūpuna. I believe that cancelling this year’s festival is necessary for the health of our lāhui and the perpetuation of our culture and its intergenerational values,” said kumu hula Māpuana de Silva of Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima. 

“We are so grateful to the County of Hawai‘i, our kumu, haumāna and every supporter of this festival,” said Kawelu. 

All participating kumu hula and judges have been notified of the cancellation.