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Next Year's Merrie Monarch Festival Is On But With No Live Audience

Merrie Monarch Festival

Organizers of the Merrie Monarch Festival announced there will be no live audience for the annual hula competition next year.

Tickets to the spring event usually go on sale around Dec. 1, but the sales have been canceled. Instead, organizers and sponsors are exploring other options given the ongoing pandemic.

"Having to cancel last year's [2020] event was a very hard decision but one we knew was necessary for the health and safety of our beloved dancers, kumu, judges and hula community overall," said Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu in a news release yesterday.

The Merrie Monarch organizing committee is "working to develop a 2021 event that will allow for a celebration of hula that aligns with recommended COVID-19 protocols and guidelines."

The week-long festival and cultural event is usually held in March and draws thousands of visitors to Hilo. It was canceled this year because of COVID.

Kawelu said while perpetuation of hula and Hawaiian culture is the festival's mission, "priority during these unprecedented times is keeping our 'ohana and community safe and healthy."

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