The tastes and sights of the Pacific Islands were showcased last weekend during Polynesian Days at Electric Park and Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. The day’s festivities culminated in a luau at the Waterfall Amphitheater.
According to the organizers of Polynesian Days, “Utah is home to a very large Polynesian population. We want to show our amazing cultures, food, accomplishments, entertainment, and diversities of the Polynesian people with Island and local crafts, handmade products, and services. There’s something for everyone!”
Electric Park at Thanksgiving Point was transformed over the three-day festival, with Polynesian and cultural dancing, storytelling, singing, and other local Polynesian talents on display.
The annual luau took place at Ashton Gardens, where guests were greeted by Kanani Pua dancers with leis and a friendly, “Aloha.” A traditional Hawaiian luau awaited at the Waterfall Amphitheater, including pulled pork, macaroni salad, fresh pineapple, and sweet barbeque chicken. The only thing missing was purple poi rolls.
Before the official entertainment began, Utah’s Attorney General, Sean Reyes, introduced Mitt Romney and gave him some gifts from the Islands. “It’s a great feature of our state to have the Polynesian community be part of our history and culture. I think not only of the family love that exists in the Polynesian community, but the love of faith and principal and the enthusiasm and energy they have,” said Romney. He also expressed his hope that the Olympics would come back to Utah someday. “It’s wonderful to be part of your ohana, which I understand means ‘family.’” Attorney General Reyes praised Romney for being a mentor and supporting Reyes in his bid to be the first minority elected official in the state of Utah.
The Kanani Pua Dancers spent the rest of the evening sharing dances from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and New Zealand, with the hundreds of guests. “Auntie Lucy” kept the audience participating and laughing between dances and she also thrilled the crowd with her Maori dance with poi balls, showing off moves and skills that impressed even the Kanani Pua Dancers. The luau was capped off by a fire dancer who had everyone on the edge of their seats by spinning and throwing his fire-tipped batons.