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It’s clear that residents of wine country are pushovers for all things Hawaiian.

More than 5,000 people turned out last Saturday at Napa Valley Expo for a daylong salute to the music, food, crafts, togs and lifestyle of the 50th state.

Promoters hope the event will become an annual Aloha Festival, one in which those with roots and/or ties to the Hawaiian islands can share the aloha spirit for which Hawaii is renowned.

Spotlighting the accessible music of Hawaii, the inaugural Napa Valley Aloha Festival also featured vendors who brought everything from homemade jewelry and clothing to all the ingredients for hearty, traditional plate lunches.

The musical lineup was crowned by celebrated slack key guitarist/vocalist/recording artist Cyril Pahinui, who stuck around to conduct a special guitar workshop on Sunday.

Members of the sponsoring organization, the Manaleo Hawaiian Cultural Foundation, deemed the inaugural even an overwhelming success.

“We had a wonderful time putting this destination event together,” declared foundation vice president Keoki Cortez, who is also a member of the Hawaiian performing ensemble, Manaleo.

“Everyone we talked to had very positive comments about the festival and were anxious for us to continue this tradition in the very near future,” he added. “Our vendors were so happy with the turnout.

“We can truly say that our 1st Annual Napa Valley Aloha Festival was a wonderful success with over 5,000 people attending this event throughout the day.”

The event sponsors asked all who attended to bring with them a can of non-perishable food as the price of admission.

“We filled seven 50 gallon containers plus over 75 packages of more food items for our Napa Food Bank and thank the community for being so generous in our efforts to support the food bank,” Cortez said.

“We are still working on our monetary donations we collected for the Napa Food Bank and will present them with a check when we have the completed figures. The Napa Food Bank will be the annual recipient of this food drive.

“Cyril’s workshop on the 21st attracted some great support and he has volunteered to headline our festivals in the near future as well as with other opportunities we are working on for our community.

“We would also like to take this time to thank our community for supporting this event and look forward to presenting them with more cultural activities throughout the year.”

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