LIHU‘E — People who have recently passed by Vidinha Stadium already know the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair is opening soon.
Set-up for the annual four-day fair, which opens Thursday evening, started in earnest on Saturday. Farmers and volunteers exchanged their farm equipment for manual labor, hammers and pliers to set up the festive village on the west end of the Vidinha Stadium parking lot.
“They were supposed to do this Sunday,” said Kaua‘i High School athletic director Ross Shimabukuro. “But when we came for the football game against King Kekaulike, it was pretty much all set up.”
Tony Pajela of Garden Island Security established his “home away from home” while football fans made their way to the Saturday night game.
“We’re doing this again, one more year,” Pajella said, noting his personnel will occupy the farm fair premises until next Monday.
A representative of E.K. Fernandez Shows was idle while waiting on the arrival of crews to set up the array of rides and the carnival midway.
“Normally, I’m with the personnel department,” the O‘ahu worker said. “This is the first time I’m traveling with the set-up crew so I don’t know if we’re ahead of schedule, or even how many people we’re going to be hiring. That comes later.”
Signs of workers age 18 and older appeared at the corner of Ho‘olako and Rice streets as workers began the task of assembling the rides.
“Set-up is always the hard part,” the E.K. Fernandez worker said. “Tear-down is easy — wham, bam and everything gets packed up. But to set up, everything needs to be stretched and secured. That takes time.”
Soupbone Kashiwabara, a veteran of many farm fairs, said all he does now is point fingers.
“I did this for many years,” he said. “A lot of these electrical cables we created at my house and a lot of these are my wires. But they’re all specially made. Today, I let the young people do the work, I just point fingers and tell them where everything goes.”
Kashiwabara said in addition to the farm fair, he used to do all the wiring for the Kaua‘i Hospice “Concert in the Sky,” until the Kaua‘i Fire Department came in.
“Now, we just cook,” he said. “The Hospice event is only one day and the fire guys are on hand, so they just let us cook for the guys.”
Melissa McFerrin, the event coordinator for the Kaua‘i Farm Bureau, said the fair’s program guide appeared in Sunday’s edition of The Garden Island. In addition to the insert, they are in the process of updating the farm fair website (www.kauaifarmfair.org) so each event will have its own pictures and information.
She added that Hawai‘i Tropical Flowers and Foliage is having a special award-winning designer flying in from Pennsylvania to do the floral demonstration, Friday, with the theme of weddings.
“Johnny Gordines is getting excited about this,” McFerrin said. “The Pennsylvania Flower Show in March 2012 has a theme of Hawai‘i, and there are Kaua‘i people who will be participating in that event. The designer who is coming was a winner from the 2011 show.”
Jerry Ornellas, Kaua‘i Farm Bureau member, said there was an article appearing in last Sunday’s edition of a Honolulu periodical which traced the event back to when Frank Sinatra sang at the fair.
“That was when it was held at Marine Camp,” he said, joining the other farmers for a lunch break. “(Sinatra) had just gotten divorced from a famous actress, his show was going downhill, and he came here and gave the show of his life.”
Kashiwabara said from Wailua, the fair moved for a while to Hanapepe, taking place in the area now being used as the soccer fields adjacent to Hanapepe Stadium.
From there, the event moved to Elsie Wilcox Elementary School, the pavilion at Kukui Grove Center, the parking lot of the War Memorial Convention Hall before settling in at its current location at Vidinha Stadium parking lot.
“We really need a permanent fairground,” Ornellas said. “Fortunately, we have been able to work with the administration and the fair has been able to take care of people every year.”
Gates for the 2011 Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair open at 6 p.m., Thursday.
For more information, refer to the insert in Sunday’s edition of The Garden Island, or visit www.kauaifarmfair.org.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.