February 8, 2000 Punahou Carnival
Growing up in Hilo, the County Fair was one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. Every September, the Civic grounds would transform into a noisy, crowded arena of rides, food booths, games and the like. Always blessed with many fair-goers, and its share of Hilo Rain, it inevitably became a part of my life.
Anywhere and everywhere, there were familiar faces. Our 4-H clubs and school clubs had fund-raising booths, Mom always worked in the HFT plant booth, and I even modeled in the Fashion Show one year. Even though nothing really changed over the years, the excitement never faded. The County Fair was for the entire community to converge in one place, and we always had a wonderful time.
So now I have this personal affinity for carnivals.
When I came to Oahu for college, I was overwhelmed by all the different fairs throughout the island in a year. Having so many reasons to blow $20 playing a game 10 times and win a little stuffed animal doesn’t seem so special to me. I have a personal favorite though-it’s the Punahou Carnival.
Last week Saturday, Kyle and I made our yearly trek to the crowded (but this year dry) grounds of Punahou School in Makiki.
It’s small enough to feel comfortable, and it usually rains, making it feel more like home! We don’t spend nearly as much time there as I did when I was ten, nor is my purpose to go and “check out” all the cute boys and sweat over pots of hot chili in the fundraising booths like my friends and I used to. I go to the fair more for its nostalgia.
The games (my favorite is the one where you have to pop three balloons in the same red square) and rides are basically the same. Well, maybe they’re a little bit scarier and more expensive now, but the atmosphere is still very familiar. We look forward to the gyros and fried noodles for dinner, and sometimes will spring for a bag of cotton candy. The only thing we’ve never done that’s typically “local” is to stand in line for an hour for malasadas!
This year, we met Kyle’s niece and nephew at the fair, and had a little different experience. Instead of just going for a “little while,” just “to go,” it was fun to take an hour for dinner, and to wait in line to ride something that was over in a second. Kyle won Kelsie and Kolby matching teddy bears in a game we played over and over until we won. We spent all our money in just three hours and went home tired but happy.
Walking around the fair, it’s comforting to know that some things never really change. I enjoy watching these high schoolers working alongside their parents to raise money, and could imagine myself in their place ten years ago. It was when my friends and I put so much importance in “hanging out” and “being cool.” Somehow, it was even “cooler” to be an active member in different clubs, and get into the fair for free. As we grew older, we had boyfriends to win us prizes and friends to give us free sodas, which was ultimately hip. I remember trying to stretch our money so we could stay out all night, but if we needed more, we could find our parents working in one booth or another.
Growing up in Hilo always meant going to the County Fair in September, O-Bon dances at the Hongwanji in the summer, and hanging out at Prince Kuhio Plaza the last day of school. Those were times that we could count on; rewards that would come if we were “good kids.” Sometimes I’m disappointed that communities are not as cohesive as they were when I was a kid in Hilo, but I’m optimistic that children today still appreciate those “special events” and continue to work hard to attain their goals without forgetting who they are, and where they come from.
I’ll always be thankful for being raised in Hilo, and they County Fair will always be a part of those good memories.
Susan Sensei’s English Lesson #16（スーザン先生の英語講座 その16）
For two years I taught English in Japan, and was “スーザン先生” to my students in Ikaho town, Gunma Prefecture. I will try and introduce new words and phrases for the Japanese visitor to Hawaii. Here is this week’s situation:
◆ “May I have $20?”
$20のところは、Twenty dollars です。金額は好きな額でいいのですが、25セント単位の場合が多いです。後からでも買えるので、最初に買いすぎないことがポイントです。
|Loco Girl’s Profile（ロコ・ガールのプロフィール）
Born in Hilo, I grew up going fishing with Dad, shopping with Mom, and trying to be a good “big sister” to a younger sister and brother. A Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa alumni, I taught English in Japan for two years on the JET Program, and am now employed at PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. I love doing a lot of things-shopping, reading, lettering, making jewelry & crafts, watching Friends-and that’s just the start of my list! I like being busy, and am active with the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) and the Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC.) My family and friends are, of course, very important to me, and are why I live a very typical, happy, local-style life in Hawaii and will never leave!