Island History

Frank Sinatra at the 1952 County Fair

Singer Frank Sinatra was the featured attraction of the 1952 Kauai County Fair held at the old Wailua Fair Grounds and Race Track near Wailua Golf Course and Marine Camp makai of Kuhio Highway.

“The Voice,” as Sinatra was popularly known, held six performances, two on each evening, beginning Friday, May 2nd and continuing through Sunday.  Saturday’s shows were a sellout, with one of the ticket-sellers being drafted from the audience to help handle the big crowds.

Sinatra had first achieved success as a solo performer with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands in the late 1930s and early 1940s, recording 23 top-10 singles between 1940 and 1943.  But by the late 1940s, his popularity had declined and had reached its lowest ebb by the time he performed at the ‘52 Kauai County Fair.

Yet a year later Sinatra would be back on top following his winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor by playing Pvt. Angelo Maggio in “From Here to Eternity” — a film classic based on James Jones’ brilliant novel set on pre-World War II O‘ahu.  The movie also starred Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed.

At the fair, stock car races were supposed to have been a hit, but thick clouds of dust churned up by the 16 race cars shipped from Honolulu made for a disappointing show.

By the way, a rather amusing, study in contrasts occurred at the Lihue airport right after Sinatra flew in from Honolulu, when The Garden Island newspaper reporter Matsuo “One-Note” Kuraoka interviewed the star singer.  A droll scene it was to watch “One-Note” question Sinatra, who in stark contrast possessed a remarkable vocal range running from a near-tenor high F to lower register E.


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