Steel Trappings

Maui Steel Guitar Festival COVID-19

Maui Steel Guitar Festival Canceled

July 7, 2020 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

Maui communities will not be enjoying a Hawaiian steel guitar festival this year. The festival, originally scheduled for mid-April then rescheduled for mid-October due to scheduling conflicts and the coronavirus pandemic, has been canceled.

Monte McComber, Cultural Director for the Royal Hawaiian Center, indicated that Festival Companies, who manages both the Royal Hawaiian Center and The Shops at Wailea, has frozen all departmental budgets. The downturn in tourism income due to the pandemic may have been one factor affecting this decision.

"We'll need to forego this year, unfortunately, and plan for next year," said Monte. "We're not allowed to expend any funds."

2019 Festival at Outlets of Maui
2019 Festival at Outlets of Maui

As with previous years, the Maui festival was presented at two Maui locations to maximize the steel guitar outreach to Maui communities. This year's festival was scheduled to be presented at The Shops at Wailea on Friday and Saturday, and at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center in Kahului on Sunday.

While the festival at The Shops at Wailea was canceled, HIMELE had hoped to still present a festival at Kahului's Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center. Unfortunately, that portion of the festival had to be canceled as well.

2019 Festival at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center
2019 Festival at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center

Kauwela Bisquera, representing the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center's management, said, "I'd hoped we could get especially this event back on, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the safety and health of our community, the hard decision to cancel all events through the rest of year was made." He further stated, "We hope we can continue our partnership into 2021 and please keep us in mind when planning 2021's event."

The Maui festival is the longest-running Hawaiian steel guitar festival in the State of Hawai‘i. Originally started under a different event name by Maui non-profit Arts Education and Children Group in 2008, the festival was rebranded to the Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival in 2013 when HIMELE began partnering with AECG to produce the festival. The 2020 festival would have been the first festival produced without the benefit of the AECG partnership.



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HIMELE is a Hawai‘i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.