Every Wednesday night, at the end of Kapoho-Kalapana Road, upwards of 800 people show up for Hawaii Island's ultimate gathering. Uncle Robert's is equal parts music festival, crafts fair, food cart pod and Asian night market - along with that aloha spirit you can only find in Hawaii.
Robert Keli‘iho‘omalu was a sustainable farmer, soldier, Hawaiian sovereignty activist and revered Kupuna (elder). In 1990, a lava flow devastated the Kalapana community - with the exception of Uncle Robert's four acre homestead. Since then, the family has tried to share their good fortune with the community. Uncle Robert first opened a small space at the front of his property selling shave ice and soda. Then came Uncle Robert's Awa Bar, which sells kava. The night market, which is the island's only nighttime market, started in 2012 and gets bigger every year.
Uncle Robert's is definitely easier to experience than explain. It reminds me a bit of Shakedown Street at Grateful Dead shows, what with all of the haole hippies with dreads. But then there's the Hawaiian sovereignty movement flag, a lei-wearing chicken and the Kalapana Awa Band playing slack key that makes it really is its own, uniquely Hawaiian, thing. As Uncle Robert once said, "Where the road ends, the aloha begins.”