The Annual Lake Lure LURAU is a true community celebration that showcases our distinctive natural assets, our lake, our beach and of course, our wonderful small-towns. Few places in the world can pull off an authentic Hawaiian luau in a setting that feels a lot like Hawaii…without an ocean!
Given its unique position, we thought we would ask the event's founders how this particular concept of a Polynesian style event "in the mountains" come about? Below, Chamber president Kevin Cooley and Events Committee Chair, Janet Walters sit down for a Q&A:
K. Cooley: Having visited Hawaii, it occurred to me that our setting here in Lake Lure was similar (but uniquely different), given our water-beach and mountain backdrop. Not everyone has an opportunity to visit Hawaii to experience an authentic, traditional luau celebration. So, I thought why not offer the experience right here in "little old" Lake Lure so all of our residents and visitors who want to enjoy it can (at a pretty good savings from having to journey to Hawaii)!
J. Walters: Having lived in Hawaii for three years, I thought that our beach and mountain backdrop was perfect for this type of event. Kevin and others were discussing the prospects of a new event in the area and I felt that this would be an ideal summer gathering, allowing residents to gather and to welcome summer visitors to our shores with the spirit of Aloha.
Why do you think it has so quickly become such a popular event?
K. Cooley: We've incorporated numerous fun and interactive activities into the event, including the Pig Parade where "locals" can see their neighbors acting a little silly impersonating Hawaiian warriors and hula gals playing traditional Hawaiian instruments. We have Hawaiian dance lessons, a visitor welcome ceremony where locals present visitors with a souvenir, a Hawaiian DJ (the Big Kahuna) playing dance music on the beach "under the stars" and a "s'mores roast" around a campfire on the beach. We try to make this a "great value" event by keeping ticket prices affordable for a great evening of dining, entertainment, dancing and fun.
J. Walters: I have heard many local folks (Karolina Kama’ainas) say that they had seldom used the public beach for their own enjoyment. Instead, they had previously viewed the beach as simply an attraction for visitors (Haoles). This event brings Karolinians down out of the hills and from around the lake to the beautiful beach in the evening to participate in an event that highlights the beauty of downtown Lake Lure.
Do you see new faces at this event each year?
K. Cooley: We intentionally "reach out" to visitors with our marketing and promotional campaign, and we make a big deal out of having new faces join us. Afterward, we hear things like, "We'll be back next year and bring our whole family.” The word-of-mouth about the event has been tremendous.”
J. Walters: An authentic luau on a beach with professional dancers is not something that most would expect to find in the mountains of North Carolina, but I think they find it a welcome addition to their summer holiday. It is also an appealing opportunity for folks to dress Hawaiian style, to join in the dancing on the beach, to get a little sand on their toes and to mingle with visitors to our fair town. It is a wonderful opportunity for locals to share their knowledge of the area and for visitors to meet those who live in and love Hickory Nut Gorge.
What's new and different this year at the event? What can attendees expect?
K. Cooley: We've hired a new Polynesian dance troupe that promises to be more "lively" and entertaining than the previous troupe. We're still planning this year's event and looking for ways to "raise the bar." Hopefully, we will have a few "surprises" by event time.
J. Walters: Regarding the new dance group this year, they perform a variety of Polynesian - not exclusively Hawaiian or hula - dances involving multiple costume changes and musical instruments, which should prove to be most entertaining. The dancers will invite everyone to come out on to the sand to learn a few Hawaiian dances including a fun one for “men only.” That will be worth watching.