A taste of the tropics

Everett jams to Polynesian culture and enjoys family time at festival.

By Marcie Miller

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Summer is always prime time for family reunions and vacations, but Saturday’s Polynesian Summer Jam at Mariner High School was a rare family-sponsored major public event.

The one-day festival featuring the music, food and crafts of Polynesia was put on by Tui Channel Productions of Everett. That’s Tui, as in Tuiasosopo, as in Marques Tuiasosopo, the star University of Washington quarterback drafted this year by the Oakland Raiders. In this case it’s his uncle, Sina Tuiasosopo.

Sina Tuiasosopo was too busy to talk at Saturday’s festival, but his wife, Suzanne, took a moment to explain what the festival was all about. Actually it only took one word: family.

"Family is the most important thing to Polynesians," she said.

Co-organizer Vanessa Matautia agreed.

"We couldn’t have done it without them," she said. "You name it, they did it — whether we asked five months ago or just yesterday. This is really a tribute to them."

The extended family of volunteers also included Mariner High School students collecting parking fees as a school fund-raiser, and the girls’ basketball team running concessions and the children’s play area.

Suzanne Tuiasosopo said they chose the athletic field at Mariner High School because their son Trenton is a student there.

The weather was windy, with clouds threatening rain, much like the tropics, but it was about 30 degrees cooler in Everett on Saturday than in the South Pacific.

Still, vendors lined the green, selling Polynesian food and crafts hard to find this side of Hawaii. One vendor offered dashboard hula dancers and "Polynesian Power" license plate holders. Another had puka-shell necklaces and shrimp-flavored chips.

Every vendor had something done in colorful Hawaiian prints, from shirts to car seat covers.

Families spread blankets on the grass and settled in to listen to the lineup of Polynesian performers who played from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Matautia said they were fortunate to get some of the biggest names in Polynesian music, such as Jamoa Jam from New Zealand, making their first appearance in the United States, and Biggamatai’s from Los Angeles.

Sina Tuiasosopo’s cousin Peter Tuiasosopo served as master of ceremonies, and was responsible for recruiting Biggamatai’s.

Matautia said they presold about 2,000 tickets, and Pacific Island students at area schools who earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average received two free tickets.

Saturday’s event was "Muamua," the first, but they hope to make it an annual event.

You can call Herald Writer Marcie Miller at 425-339-3292

or send e-mail to mmiller@heraldnet.com.

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