Jasmine Gunn is the founder of Kekoa of Aloha, a nonprofit organization that’s bringing an Aloha Festival to Reno on Aug. 27 at Wingfield Park on the Truckee River. Visit the website at www.renoalohafestival.com or www.facebook.com/KekoaOfAloha to learn more.
What is Kekoa of Aloha?
Kekoa means warrior. We wanted to do like Warriors of Aloha—like bringing it to Reno, just more culture to Reno, like the Hawaiian culture, Polynesian. I noticed there was nothing here.
So talk to me a little bit about this event. What’s it going to entail?
We’re going to have different food vendors, craft vendors, local vendors. We’ll have—all day will be entertainment. We’ll have cultural workshops happening, and, like, little activities for the kids.
What kind of cultural workshops?
We’re having a guest come. His name is Pa’a ’Alana. He’s a tattoo artist. … He’s a mea kakau moli practitioner and genealogical researcher. So he does the tapping tattoo, the traditional Hawaiian type of tattoo.
Will he be just talking about the process of doing it and the history of it?
Or will he be doing tattoos?
No. The health department wouldn’t let us.
Darn. All right. Talk to me about the food.
There’s a lot of Reno foodies. So we’re having different vendors. Some are still pending, but the ones that we have confirmed—they’re going to bring lau lau. It’s like seaweed, taro leaf and then pork. It’s wrapped pork in this leaf. It’s pretty good. And they’re also doing lomi salmon. And that’s a side dish where they put raw salmon pieces in ice with tomato and onion. We’ll have poke. Do you know what poke is?
So, it’s raw ahi tuna, and it’s seasoned with whatever that vendor wants to use. But it’s just basically raw fish. Oh, we’re having Hawaiian shave ice. Shave is not with a “d.” It’s just Hawaiian shave ice. They’re coming from Sacramento, and they’re pretty good. … I tried them in Sacramento when I went to their Aloha festival, and they had the longest line out of everything.
What do you hope that people get out of the event?
A day to get together and talk story, meet other people from the island or people who have been or want to go. And then for the younger kids, for them to learn more about the culture.
Cool. Any kid-specific activities?
Just like candy lei making. We’ll read, like, a story, a Hawaiian story. That’s all I’ve got so far, because I’m lagging on that section.
Oh, music! Tell me about the music.
So we’re having five halaus, which are like hula groups. We also have about five music acts. We’re having Britt Straw. She’s local. She’s not Hawaiian, but she plays ukelele. Our headliner is Blessed Love—gospel reggae. Then we’re also having Imua, and they’re Hawaiian contemporary. … Would you like to hear more about the halaus? We have Poly Nui. They’re local. The other local one is Ka Pa Hula O Kawaiolanoelaniokane.