Seeking face of the farm fair

LIHUE — One of the island’s largest annual gatherings is put on to support the community and to honor Hawaii’s ancestors, according to officials with the Kauai County Farm Bureau.

“We depend on the farm fair to make us money, so we offer our farm bureau members activities and meetings,” said Laurie Ho, volunteer president for the Kauai County Farm Bureau. “We live on what that farm fair generates.”

The Kauai County Farm Bureau is seeking an event coordinator after its former coordinator, Melissa McFerrin, recently stepped down for personal reasons.

“We’re very thankful for what she’s done,” said Jerry Ornellas, Kauai County Farm Bureau board member and local farmer.

McFerrin did not respond to requests for comment.

The event coordinator is the face of the farm fair, Ho said. The annual event runs Aug. 24-27 at Vidinha Stadium.

Duties for the coordinator include working with the fair’s sponsors and entertainers, coordinating construction and being a liaison between the farm bureau and the community.

The bureau, as well as community organizations like Kauai Pop Warner Football, depend on the fair, Ornellas said.

“That’s how we raise all our funds for the entire year,” he said.

For proprietary reasons, Ho could not disclose how much the fair raises annually.

“Based on entrance ticket sales is what farm bureau earns. Sales of each nonprofit or commercial booth space and 20 percent of food,” she said. “We see a lot of coming in and a lot of money going out. A lot of people benefit from this event.”

The farm bureau has about 360 members. It’s tied to a state umbrella organization, the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and also a national farm bureau.

“We represent all forms of agriculture — both large and small farmers — from conventional farming to organic,” Ho said.

The nonprofit is also seeking an executive administrator, a position currently held temporarily by Amy Chun.

“To keep our 49-year-old organization running, we’re looking for someone to help with fund development, correspondence, assistance with finance and helping the board secretary with letter writing minutes,” Ho said.

Hawaii’s foundation is agriculture, Ornellas said.

“Our ancestors worked the hard road. Whatever they had to do, they did it,” he said. “Hopefully the fair that we put on is to honor those people because we owe them so much: the Filipinos, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians.”

Chartered as a nonprofit in 1968, the farm bureau hosts a weekly farmers market at Kauai Community College every Saturday.

Many residents and retailers often depend on the efforts of local agriculture.

“Farmers are the same worldwide: All they want to do is grow more for me with less and less,” said Poipu resident Joe Sauve. “You’re getting in with the ground floor. It’s nice to do business with the local farmers — whether it’s here or on the Mainland or anyplace else.”

Ordean Bukoski, Sueoka’s produce manager, said the store works with about five or six local farmers.

“With Sueoka being a family-oriented thing, we try to have more local farmers come in. We try to have it consistently, but some produce are seasonal,” she said. “But as soon as we have the opportunity to buy local stuff, we jump at it.”

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