Crews work down to the wire to set up BayFest

Michelle Asato
Michelle Asato

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - Tens of thousands of people are expected to converge at Marine Corps Base Hawaii for food, games and chart-topping music this weekend.

BayFest organizers were a bit worried when then-Hurricane Felicia started heading our way. Because of all the uncertainty, they didn't begin setting up as early as they had planned.

But now, everything is in place. On Friday, hard-working crews put the final touches on what's become a huge annual event.

"We have a lot of local people calling. They are always excited about BayFest every year and they just can't wait to get on base," Michelle Asato, Marine Corps Community Services, said.

The festival began 20 years ago as a way to bridge the gap between the military and the local community.

"Back then, it was called the Windward Family Festival, so it was always family-oriented," Asato said. "Our main act was just the Mamas and the Papas. We didn't really have all these opening acts."

BayFest 2009 features carnival rides and games, multiple musical performances -- including a concert by the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas -- and displays of military vehicles and equipment.

"Children like to climb up on the tanks and planes and jeeps and things like that, so they just have a great time," Asato said.

Organizers say the first festival drew about 5,000 people. In recent years, an average of 35,000 people have flocked to the three-day event.

"The community also shows their support to the military, so that's a great thing," Asato said.

The festivities will wrap up at 1 am, and start up again at noon Saturday. Parking is free and there is an on-base shuttle.

All 15,000 tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert Saturday night have been sold.