Maui Onion Festival: a secret event for the elite?

The elusive Maui Onion has a reputation for being sweeter than your garden variety onion.
The elusive Maui Onion has a reputation for being sweeter than your garden variety onion.

I’ve been chasing the elusive Maui Onion for decades, and have recently been closer than ever.

But first, some history.

Decades ago, I went for a job interview at either the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver or the New Westminster Quay in — you guessed it — New Westminster. I don’t remember which. The job was at a vegetable stand. I probably wore a suit to the interview. And brought my brother, Neil.

Not the best strategy, bringing your brother to a job interview. But now I have a witness.

I could hardly understand what the guy running the stand was saying. For all I know he’d offered me a job. I’ll never know. But what I do know is that every other sentence was something about Maui Onions. He’d get very excited when he mentioned Maui Onions. I gathered that Maui Onions were very important to him.

I didn’t get the job. (I don’t think I did, anyway.) But I never forgot the Maui Onions. Neil and I would bring them up with each other from time to time over the decades. It became, well, a thing. (Where’s my thesaurus?)

Finally, just recently, Neil decided to head to Maui. I always thought of Maui as a boring place that honeymooning couples went to because there was nothing else to do except, well, honeymoon. But Neil is single. I knew he would be singularily up to the task of the mission: “Don’t forget the Maui Onions!” I admonished him.

Imagine my shock when the mail arrived last week. Inside the large envelope was the front page from Maui Scene, Your Entertainment and Dining Guid from the Maui News – April 30 to May 6, 2009. This page features a photo of two very happy-looking gentlement with a bag and a bucket of onions. The headline: ONION FUN — Bring the family to the free 20th annual Maui Onion Festival Saturday.

Free? Twentieth annual? There’s been nineteen more of these, and I haven’t noticed? When is it? Is it May 2, the Saturday of the week covered by the current edition of The Maui News? Or is it the next Saturday — today?

I had to find out. So I googled maui onion festival 2009. Over 14,000 listings in just 0.15 seconds. I clicked on the link at the top. The calendar of events suggests that the Festival was on May 2. Shoot. I’ve missed it. And nothing on the event listing to click on to find out more information. But there’s a calendar to the right. With fear and trepidation, I clicked on May 2. There’s a whole list of events, all hyperlinked. I click on the one that promises information about the 20th Annual Maui Onion Festival. Where does it lead me? You guessed it. Right back to where I started. All I know is the date and  place. And the promise that the “20th annual festival features celebrity chef demonstrations, entertainment and Maui onion recipe contest.” But when? “Note: Time To Be Announced”

Time to be announced? It’s a week later, and the time still hasn’t been announce. What these websites have created is the illusion of tranparency without actually providing any helpful information to outsiders. This is beginning to look like the work of the Illuminati. Or the Freemasons. Or maybe even both.

There’s another link toward the bottom. For contact information, I click: Whaler’s Village. Babes in grass skirts. But no onions. I go to Events and Activities. Hula lessons. Surfing. What’s that on the left? MAUI ONION FESTIVAL. I think I’ve hit the jackpot. A list of events with a teaser: Spend $150.00 and get a free Maui Onion Festival canvas bag. But no time, no location, unless I already know where Whaler’s Village is.

And there’s the promise of more information if I call or email.

Yeah, right. Like they’ll tell me anything.

Hopefully my field agent, Neil, will have more on this when he returns from his assignment in Paris. But until then, the Maui Onion mystery remains unsolved.


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