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Las Vegas: Lei Day celebrates all things Hawaiian

April 29, 2011|By Irene Lechowitzky | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Dancers perform at 2010 Lei Day event in Las Vegas.
Dancers perform at 2010 Lei Day event in Las Vegas. (Gregory Young )

Hawaiians have had a long love affair with Las Vegas, so much so that some refer to Sin City as the "Ninth Island" because it's such a popular destination when gambling fever strikes.

The downtown California Hotel and Casino has struck gold by catering to the island crowd. This weekend, the California hosts Lei Day Las Vegas, a free, two-day Polynesian festival featuring all things Hawaiian: traditional musicians and dancers as well as crafts and food booths.

Event promoter Katherine Pohndorf says some of the vendors fly in from the 50th state to sell their handmade creations and fresh flower leis. In lieu of a luau, vendors will offer island classics such as kalua pig, lau lau, huli huli chicken, beef teriyaki sticks, poi mochi, hot malasadas and shaved ices.

Get your hula on as a continual flow of dance troupes takes the stage. Demonstrations and activities will highlight Hawaiian culture. On Sunday at 3 p.m., local bands will take over the festival for the "Island Fever Block Party."

If that's not enough aloha spirit, splurge a little ($25) to attend the Saturday night concert in the California's Ohana Maile Room featuring Hawaiian entertainers Diana Aki, Nohelani Cypriano and Mailani Makainai.

Info: Lei Day Las Vegas festival, California Hotel and Casino, downtown, 9 a.m.  to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Festival admission is free.

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