Kona Brewers Festival—Beer Bash on the Big Rock
The gecko is the "aumakua" or symbolic protector of Kona Brewing on the Big Island and the little lizard serves them well. This year marks the 18th annual Kona Brewers Festival, always held the first weekend in March. The lizard delivers with over 70 beers in addition to chefs contributing pupus from more than 30 kitchens. This is always a sell-out and you need to get your tickets early, book your flight and your room and polish up the beer goggles.
Come for the beer, stay for the party. The King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel luau grounds in Kailua-Kona are transformed into at tropical brewpub. I love the beers assembled mid-ocean, but the food keeps bringing me back. Tropical, local, exotic but most importantly delicious. The main stage has great local and international music acts all day long. There's usually something goofy like a recycled material fashion show to promote sustainability and the environment. This event has raised over a half million dollars over the years for local NGOs and charities. While you can get a little loopy with the pounding sun, driving dance floor beats and beer flow, a room at the KK makes the walk home traffic-free.
Plenty of other chances to punch the fun ticket avail with a brewing contest, a 10K run, golf tourney and related activities around town including a banquet with special food/beer pairings. This is a community event that opens its heart to the beer geek willing to shell out $60 to show support. All for a great cause.