For another year, these neighbor island fairs were canceled. This time, staffing is the problem

EK Fernandez Shows is currently gearing up for the 50th state fair here at Aloha Stadium. But they won't be able to take this set up to the outer islands.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 7:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thrill rides, games and carnival treats won’t be heading to the neighbor islands this year.

Scott Fernandez, president of EK Fernandez Shows, said the company does not have the staff or enough time to get all the equipment to the neighbor islands, operate it there and then bring it all back.

He said he lost most of his trained staff once the state went on lockdown.

“It’s unique work so not everybody wants to stay up all night and tear down rides and get into the pier for some odd reason so finding those individuals training them to be able to do that job, you know, takes a while,” said Fernandez. “And so, if you can’t put up the asset, you can’t generate the income.”

“You can’t pay for the freight, shipping freight, which exploded over the last three years.”

President of the Hawaii County Fair Foundation Kelton Chang said the Hilo Fair slated for September has been cancelled due to funding.

But the cancelation on the Big Island is not just a blow to thrill-seekers and families.

It also impacts businesses who rely on the event.

“So to not have it in the community it’s devastating, it’s a blow to the economy,” said Chang. “And all these small businesses that we work with that generate, you know, income for them, they’re losing out too.”

Chang said organizations use the fair to raise funds that would last them a year.

And it’s not just Hawaii Island.

Organizers announced Thursday afternoon that the Maui Fair is being postponed for another year because of high shipping costs and staff shortages.

Sonny Kekahuna of Maui said his family has been looking forward to the event.

“Knowing that it would not go throughout Hawaii even a little worse,” said Kekahuna.

“Whatever the reasons may be, I sure hope, I mean, maybe not this year, maybe the future years, it would all come back with something similar because just here on Maui all we have really is Fun Factory.”

E.K. Fernandez Shows is looking to hire ride and game attendants, and food handlers.