On any Friday night, as the sun sinks down in the western sky, Hanapepe Town brings out the tinsel and glitter, baubles and treasure chests. Artists and musicians, lei makers, pie vendors, and an eclectic assortment of camp followers paint their faces and their canvases – of a hundred different mediums – to welcome the public to their weekly street fair. It may be “off the beaten track” but Hanapepe Town – and the raving “Friday Night NOT JUST Art Night” -- is a weekly attraction that cannot be missed.
By day the wide and sun drenched Main Street is cloaked in dazzling hot pink bougainvillea and brightly painted shop fronts – a modern addition to an important and historic town that had its heyday in the early 20th century. Behind the modern trappings rest the ghosts of the old Hawaiian west -- weathered storefronts, a feed and grain depot, a general store with a flapping screen door.
Many of these old structures are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Look for the plaques marking these antique buildings, including the circa-1926 Chang Building, which was once a bakery, then a pool hall and which now houses the Banana Patch Studio. Stagger into the previous century when you stroll on the swinging footbridge across the Hanapepe River, and take a moment of silence to remember the 1924 labor strike that left 20 disgruntled sugar cane workers dead. Hanapepe Cafe in the old Igawa Drug Store building still features its '50s soda fountain, but now is a fine-dining vegetarian venue that is only open for dinner on Friday night.
Modern day Hanapepe has numerous art galleries, mobile food vendors and offbeat boutiques strung like a lei along Hanapepe Road, a loop embracing the town in the southwest corner of Kauai. Translucent bowls and platters crafted from Hawaiian woods are proudly displayed from crystal clear windows lit by almond-colored spotlights, and sharks teeth and seashell bangles erupt from sand-filled jewelry boxes. Under the starry blanket of the black velvet night, musicians play music – ranging from classical to 50s Rock-a-Billy – alongside scarves and sarongs hanging from bamboo poles.
Every Friday the town’s entrepreneurs host Art Night beginning at 6 p.m. For more information call Ed or Cynthia at the Talk Story Book Store (located in the historic Yoshiura Store) at (808) 335-6469 or just stop in and peruse their millions of amazing books and talk story in person.
To order Monster Tacos ahead call Heather at (808) 635-6116. The Blackened Ahi Taco is one menu item that you will wish you could take home to all your friends!