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Kauai fest recalls the roots of the sugar cane industry

The history and culture of Kauai's south shore will be celebrated with a festival that pays tribute to its agricultural roots dating to the early 1800s.

Koloa Plantation Days will be held at various sites throughout Koala and neighboring Poipu on July 17-26. The celebration will honor the people from around the world who settled on the island to work in its sugar cane plantations.

Koloa is known as “Hawaii’s oldest plantation town.” The first sugar mill opened in 1835. Demand for Hawaiian sugar began to spike during the Civil War, and the industry lasted for about 130 years.

Here’s a sampling of what’s planned:

July 19: The Plantation Days Rodeo returns to CJM Country Stables. Starting at 11 a.m., some of the state’s top paniolos -- Hawaiian for "cowboys" -- will compete in various events.

July 20: A guided walk that begins at 9 a.m. will lead participants to Kaniolouma, a village in the process of being restored.

July 21: A Polynesian revue complete with fire dancing will be held in the courtyard of Poipu Shopping Village.

July 23: Tales from the era when sugar was king on Kauai will be shared in a 9 a.m. presentation beside Old Koloa Mill.

July 24: Walkers will make their way through Old Koloa Town on a historic ramble that begins at 5:30 p.m. Each of the restored homes and businesses on the route bears a plaque sharing the history of who lived or worked there. Photos and artifacts at Koloa History Center will provide visitors with further insights.

July 25: The colorful Plantation Days Parade starts at 10 a.m. outside Koloa School. The participants, including beauty queens atop floats full of flowers and paniolos on horseback, will make their way to Anne Knudsen Ballpark.

Most of the events are free.

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