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all photos and story by Ku‘ulei Funn, staff writer
 

The 4th annual Spam Jam festival was held on Kalakaua Avenue on April 29, 2006. This year’s event will take place on April 28.

The event is one of the largest tributes to Spam in the world. Last year, eight local businesses helped to sponsor the event. The event was a fundraiser for the Hawai‘i Food Bank which receives a portion of the proceeds.

Spam may seem like a humble food, but in Hawai‘i it is sometimes called the “Hawaiian steak.” The canned luncheon meat is a popular staple. From loco moco’s to musubi, Spam is a popular island food. Hawai‘i consumes 6.7 million cans of spam yearly. This is more than any other state in the U.S.
Kalakaua Avenue was closed to traffic between Lewers Street and Royal Hawaiian Avenue. Stages for live entertainment were set up at each end of the event at the cross streets. Entertainers included Grammy-Award nominee Riatea Helm, Keahiwai, BET, and Miss Hawai‘i 1995, and Tracy Taguchi. KUCD-FM alternative and sister station KDNN-FM Hawaiian hosted the event and provided DJs as emcees for it.

“ Hawai‘i is the only place that would shut down a street for spam.” Said Maleko, a DJ for KUCD.
Guests from hotels along Kalakaua participated in the activities. Some of them had no idea that Hawai‘i paid such a tribute to the canned meat.

“ I would rather keep Spam a memory,” said one visitor, on vacation from California, who wanted to remain anonymous. “It’s been a long time,” he added reminiscing about his childhood.

Spam wasn’t the only food served at the event. Garlic shrimp, local plate lunches, and other island favorites were also available.

The street was lined with tents from eight different restaurants, each offering a unique dish made from Spam, including Spam tacos to Spam Gau Gee. Participating restaurants included Canoes at the Ilikai, Sam Choy’s Restaurant, Dave & Busters, Shanghai Bistro, K’s Restaurant, Coconut Willy’s,Three Star Catering, and Time 2 Grind.

“ I like Spam hot and spicy with scrambled eggs and rice,” said Kealoha Arelliano, a volunteer for the event.

The variety of Spam would please any Spam lover, but not all the spectators were fond of Spam.
“ I don’t eat processed meat,” said Jacqueline Hanson, 28, a bartender at the Aloha Lounge in the Outrigger Reef hotel. “I don’t like Spam.”

The Spam Jam also included a variety of vendors selling Spam merchandise. Spam lovers could find nearly anything made of Spam, from t-shirts to slippers. And there were other vendors selling non-Spam goods such as airbrush tattoos and colorful glass icicles. Sassy magazine sold vivid flower pens and hemp chokers and bracelets.

Every year Spam Jam seeks two enthusiastic Spam lovers to be Mr. and Mrs. Spam Hawai‘i. Contestants must profess their passion for the canned meat in a 200-word essay, include a photo, and send it, with one or more cans of Spam, to Clear Channel Communications, which crowns the winners at the event. Prizes include $1,000 cash, and a year’s supply of Spam.

SPAM FACTS


· In the U.S. alone, 3.8 cans of Spam “are consumed every second”(assuming SPAM is eaten 24 hours a day).

· Hawai‘i eats an average of four cans of SPAM per person per year, more than in any other place on earth.

· SPAM is sold in over 99% of U.S. grocery stores.

· Over 60 million people in the U.S. eat SPAM.

· Over 141 million cans of SPAM are sold worldwide each year.

For more Spam Facts go to http://www.cusd.claremont.edu/.


 


Kupuna share their lovely hula hands with the audience to kick off the event.


Volunteers from the Hawai‘i Food Bank are proud to be helping the community.


Keahiwai drew a crowd as they sang their easy-going lyrics with mellow voices.


Sassy magazine got a lot of attention from street shoppers.


The Spam King shows off his Spam robe and Spam Bling.


A brave man getting an airbrush tatoo. “It hurts!” he said jokingly.

 


 

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