The cancellation of the Merrie Monarch Festival is a big hit for the community in Hilo but also for the performers and vendors who prepare months in advance for the yearly event, including small business owners from neighbor islands.
Meilin Vitale-Vae is the owner of Missing Polynesia. She designs a specific clothing line for Merrie Monarch each year, she says it is the highlight for her business.
Vitale-Vae said, “Merrie Monarch is the Christmas of the year, it tops our holiday season.”
That rush and revenue will not be there this year despite months of preparation, but she is taking this moment as a learning experience.
“This actually really made me wake up to be honest, like wake up do you have contingency,” she said. “As a small business owner do you have a back up, back up plan because I’ve never faced something like this before.”
Vitale-Vae is not alone in feeling the effects of this cancellation, Mele Kahalepuna Chun’s family has participated in the festival’s craft fair since day one.
But this year, her feather lei will miss out on the thousands of people who attend the event.
“We’re going stay steadfast in Holomua and get more students,” she said. “That’s an advantage I have, I have a location this is my regular thing it is my art so I can still move forward, it’s going be little bit of loss but that’s okay, we keep going.”
Both of the small business owners understand the decision to prioritize the health of the thousands who were expected at the Merrie Monarch festival.
Vitale-Vae said, “They made the hardest decision and we have to support them at this time cause I am sure it wasn’t easy.”