The Hilo Jaycee’s 64th Annual Hawaii County Fair is just around the corner, and whether you’re four or 64, there’s bound to be something for you.
As usual, the fair, on the grounds of the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, features family, food and fun.
“This year’s theme is ‘Lucky we live Big Island,’” said Jasmine De Soto, the Jaycees’ fair chair, who said she’s thrilled about the Jaycees throwing “a big party where the community comes together.”
Fair dates and hours are: Thursday, Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m.–midnight; Friday, Sept. 19, 5:30 p.m.–midnight; Saturday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m.–midnight; and Sunday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.
Daily admission is: $5 adults; children ages 4-12, $3; and children 3 and under and adults 65 and older with ID, free. The Jaycees are holding a food drive on Sunday. Any adult who brings three cans of food and any child who brings two cans of food will be admitted free. Expired foods will not be accepted.
Often, the E.K. Fernandez Midway of rides and games features a new ride or two, and this year is no exception, De Soto said.
“One of them is called Area 51. It’s kind of a gravitron where you stick to the sides,” she said.
The entertainment tent will feature many local favorites, including multiple Hoku award-winner Mark Yamanaka on Thursday, Da Braddahs on Friday, hypnotist Greg Gabaylo on the weekend, and Kapena on Sunday.
There will be contests, as well, including the “Can You Handle the Heat?” hot poke eating contest, sponsored by Suisan, and the “Hawaii’s Best, Dance Off!” contest, sponsored by KBIG. There is also a short essay contest sponsored by Basically Books, and the winners will be invited to read their work on Sunday.
According to Hilo Jaycees President Geneva Kay, the organization has writing and speaking contests at the local, state, national and international levels, and De Soto came up with the idea of having a 250-word-or-less essay contest where entrants reminisce about the fair.
“It’s an opportunity for the community after 64 years to write about their favorite fair experiences, their favorite memories — their first date, the food they look forward to eating, the vendors they look forward to seeing and the entertainment, especially,” De Soto said.
Kay said that her favorite fair memory was becoming involved with the Jaycees.
“The county fair is a different animal when you run the insides of it,” she said. “Just being a community member going to it, you don’t experience how all of these community members and volunteers make this work and make this huge event for four days happen. I think a lot of people are very unaware of that.
“It was a big shock to me realizing these people aren’t doing this because they’re getting paid. That’s not their incentive. They’re doing this and giving their heart and soul to make it happen because they love seeing so many people in the community come, bring their families and just enjoy it.”
Many Big Islanders are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle and locals have long joked September rains are timed to coincide with the county fair. De Soto said this year, the Jaycees are banking on a blessing instead of a downpour.
“We hope people will come thirsty and hungry and we’ll be blessed with a gorgeous rainbow and everybody will feel lucky to be at the fair,” she said. “We want people to come and put their worries aside and have the best time they can.”
More information and contest entry forms are available on the Hilo Jaycees’ website at www.hilojaycees.org/.
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune- herald.com.