Chris Leonard, President and General Manager of New West Broadcasting, has just announced that the 2020 Hoʻolauleʻa music festival in Hilo will be postponed.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that the 27th Annual KWXX Hoʻolauleʻa will not be held as scheduled on Saturday, September 26th due to concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Leonard said in a press release.
“It is heartbreaking to postpone the event when we know that music provides much-needed relief during stressful times, however, the safety and health of our community, artists, fans, staff and event partners are our first priority,” Leonard added. “We are looking forward to bringing this tremendous community gathering of musicians, merchants, and music lovers back when it is safe to do so. We are also disappointed because we know this is a valuable showcase for our Hawaiʻi musicians and we know they are struggling now more than ever. We strongly encourage our listeners to continue to support our Hawaiʻi musicians on-air and online whenever possible.”
The celebrated festival was originated in 1993 by the late concert promoter John Leonard, who also founded Records Hawaii after moving to Honolulu in 1968. A year later Leonard started JFL Concerts that brought many big-name acts to Hawaii, including The Jacksons, Rod Stewart, and Aerosmith during the 1970s. Leonard later helped a group of struggling Hilo radio stations back from oblivion.
In 2018, Chris Leonard told Big Island Music Magazine, “There’s probably no other large music festival in the state that has a line-up as big as ours. Sure, you’ll find top names playing at the Waikiki Shell on Oahu, but they can only hold 8,000 people. We put 20,000 people in downtown Hilo on a Saturday night. It went from being a signature event for KWXX to a signature event for this island!”
The free festival began with three stages in downtown Hilo with an estimated crowd of 4,000 people. It has grown over the years and in 2019 it featured 4 stages, 20 bands, with the biggest names in Island and Hawaiian music, and nearly 40 food and craft vendors. You can read our review and see a slide show of the 2018 Hoʻolauleʻa festival here.
Photos: Steve Roby and Gerald Besson