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PHOTOS: Aloha Fest Returns for Second Year


The second annual Aloha Festival took place this past Saturday in Wingfield park. With two stages, workshops, vendors, and food trucks there were plenty of things to experience.

Food trucks were especially popular, serving Hawaiian and Polynesian food as fast as they could turn it out. Shaved ice, a Hawaiian snow cone, was also popular for both its Hawaiian cultural significance and the 95-degree heat. It seemed hard to find attendees not carrying a Styrofoam box filled with some type of edible delicacy.

The main stage featured a variety of Hawaiian performances throughout the day. Complex and traditional dances were performed by a vast selection of age groups. From a fun, youth dance performed with sticks to some very touching performances by some more aged members of the community. Before the dances the artist would often explain the meaning behind the dance and the music it was performed to.
Each group received an ovation from the crowd.

I spoke with Jack Gephart, apprentice tattooist at HolaniKu Hale, who performs traditional Hawaiian tattoos. His title is that of a “puller,” and as such he literally pulls skin taught so the kahuna, or expert tattooist, can perform the tattooing.

It is similar to how modern tattooing needles are pierced into the skin coated in ink to leave a permanent mark. Unlike modern tattoos, traditional Hawaiian tattoos use bone needles and are pierced through the skin with a hammer rapping against the needle holder.

While anyone is allowed to get a tattoo via this technique, those with Hawaiian origins research their genealogical background to create a family heritage tattoo that is unique to their family.

Ty O'Neil
Ty O'Neil
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.