Edmonton Folk Festival, Canada 2014

My latest trip with the Masters of Hawaiian Music (Uncle Richard Hoopii, Ledward Kaapana and I) was to the Edmonton Folk Festival in Canada, which inspired this and the next couple of blog posts…


At the festival, we were scheduled for 4 performances. We left Maui on a Wednesday night getting out just before an anticipated tropical storm, arrived Thursday morning, did a concert on Friday, two shows (afternoon and evening performances) on Saturday, and a Sunday afternoon show for a total of 8 hours of music performance in 5 days and 4 nights. The rest of the time we just soaked in the festival, listened to other musicians, ate or rested.

Photo by LarryWong, Edmonton Journal

There were seven to nine stages active at any time with a capacity to grass seat 25-30,000 people on ski slopes at Gallager Park. Edmonton Folk festival is so huge they sell out the entire weekend of shows within hours so they have a lottery system in place just for seats. [Ticket selling volume overwhelmed and crashed their website so the producers decided to turn over online sales to Ticketmaster.] They also feed about 2000 volunteers and about 1000 musicians every day from August 7 until August 10.

We stayed at the Westin Edmonton 5-star Hotel and got to swim every morning, use the exercise and weight room, steam in the hot sauna and eat the best fruits, veggies and Edmonton-grown beef that the Westin had to offer.

Speaking of beef; my beef connection to Edmonton…

On Saturday night, we ate at Ruth Chris’ Steak House and even they were serving Edmonton’s famous beef petite fillets, which were huge and not very petite.

In the early 80’s I was ranching and farming on the Big Island of Hawaii in North Kohala. The land we leased spread from the Upolu airport all the way to the Mo’okini Heiau – including a good 3 miles of frontage road that extended 5 miles Mauka in the Ahupua’a called Pu’uepa (Hill of tears) that was a one time battle ground for battling Hawaiians. We were leasing about 4000 acres of land and planted about 1200 acres of alfalfa and guinea grass hay on the flats and raising a herd of 500 cow/calf beef in the gulches. At the time we were shipping about a hundred tons of hay a month to Honolulu for the dairies. Once a year, we were shipping our weaned calves through Jewish cattle buyer Elmer Rabin. We co-opted and shipped our cattle along with Parker Ranch’s to, of all places, Edmonton Canada. (Because of the Jones Act, there’s all these taxes on shipping goods from a US port to another US port, so to reduce costs, we had to ship our cattle to a foreign port, either Mexico or Canada.) Anyway, we shipped our weaned cattle to Edmonton Canada to be finished off. Later, we would buy them back and sell our finished beef to Times Super Market in Honolulu and also to all the carpenter and AFL-CIO and UPW Union members who worked construction or at the hotels.

Fast forward to 2012, Uncle Richard Hoopii, Ledward Kaapana and I were booked to perform in Canada with an old timer Edmonton cowboy musician named Ian Tyson. When we met I found out that our 1980’s young weaned-off beef cattle was shipped to him and his ranch near Edmonton. He said our Hawaii cattle were the wildest cattle he ever came across. I explained the reason: they never had contact with man before we rounded them up. And the day when we did round them up, we castrated them, burned off their horns (Polled them) vaccinated and wormed them and weaned them from their mothers. The next day they were shipped to Edmonton Canada. These young calves we’re between 6-8 months old, weighing between 450-600 pounds. At the time beef buyer Elmer Rabin paid ranchers $.34 a pound on the hoof for the (female) heifers and $.42 a pound on the hoof for the steers (castrated males). Later these young calves reached a finished weight of 1000 to 1400 pounds depending on the breed. Our females were a Brown Swiss Dairy crossed with Santa Gertrudis and a Red Hereford/Black Angus cross. We wanted the Brown Swiss breed in there for their milking ability to produce heavier weaned off calves. Our bulls were a pure breed Limousin or a Brangus -(a Brahman/Angus crossbred for overall hardiness, outstanding maternal instincts and superior carcass qualities such as leather and meat.)

That was my beef cattle connection to Edmonton Canada.

-Uncle George