This weekend, the streets of downtown Hayward will be lined with every imaginable variety of Hawaiian and Polynesian fare to fill up an empty plate—everything from shave ice and loco moco to tuna burritos.
Food will be one of the main highlights of the 49th annual Hawaiian May Day Festival, the largest event of its kind in the Bay Area. And since Hayward has one of the largest Hawaiian populations in the nation, it’s no surprise that the roving festival will return to the city on Saturday, May 7, after a two-year hiatus. Organized by the Kumu Hula Association of Northern California—a non-profit that promotes Hawaiian culture in the Bay Area—the free festival celebrates Hawaiian traditions through music, dance, arts and, of course, food.
“Food is what brings us together,” says Deanie Villiados, president of the Kuma Hula Association. “Sharing dinner is Hawaiian style. We invite everyone, no matter how much we have.”
To be sure, there will be plenty to share. Highlights will include sweets like haupia pie—made from thick coconut milk and chocolate, then stacked on a freshly baked pie crust and topped off with whipped cream. Savory dishes will run the gamut from Spam and eggs and garlic shrimp to my eternal favorite, Hawaiian barbecue.
“It’s a form of love. It’s a sense of family. It’s about being together and enjoying each other’s company like brothers and sisters. That’s true ohana,” Villiados says.