Lessons learned from Hawaii Kai Carnival

Hawaii Kai carnival

The company behind Hawaii’s major carnivals says it has never experienced backlash like it did recently.

The E.K. Fernandez carnival in Hawaii Kai the past two weekends generated a lot of controversy in the community.

Some residents say they should have been involved in the planning of the event.

Both sides say they have now come away with lessons learned from the experience.

The concession stands, the food booths and the thrill rides have all come down in Hawaii Kai but the carnival is still the talk of the town.

That’s because there are those who are still not happy that property owner Kamehameha Schools allowed E.K. Fernandez to set up the fun and games on what is referred to here at the Great Lawn.

KHON 2 repeated the concerns to a representative for E.K. Fernandez and asked if the backlash was something it has dealt with before.

“No. It was kinda strange for us,” said Donna Smith, Executive Director of E.K. Fernandez Events, LLC. “We’ve been doing this for so long, we know what we need to do before we hold a carnival.”

E.K. Fernandez staged the carnival as a fundraiser primarily for Kaiser High School football coach Rich Miano, his non-profit organization that trains young athletes, the American Red Cross, and a military organization, among others.

But they had to do abide by conditions on city permits before they staged the carnival.

One of the concerns dealt with traffic and pedestrian safety. E.K. Fernandez constructed fencing along Keahole Street, along the highway, and along Hawaii Kai Drive, to prevent people from darting out into the road, and as perimeter secuirty to prevent people from entering the grounds after hours.

The city also made sure that traffic signals and traffic lanes were not altered – to avoid congestion on the roadways.

The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board went out of its way to thank City Transportation Director Mike Formby for those conditions.  It wants to build on the experience for the next time any event is held in the future.

KHON 2 asked whether the conditions that Director Formby set worked for this carnival.

“The discussion needs to continue with the city,” said Elizabeth Reilly, the vice chairperson of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board. “Mr. Formby was just wonderful in helping us during this incident and put down some conditions.”

It appears that E.K. Fernandez is also willing to have a discussion to address concerns before the gates are open at a carnival here – or elsewhere.

“Oh, sure, we’ll be happy to do that, “said Smith, just before she was to address the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting Tuesday night. “We’ve not had a situation in the past when we’ve had to do that, but if that’s what this community wants us to do, we’ll be happy to do that.”


KHON 2 asked if E.K. Fernandez would address any other community’s concerns as well. “Absolutely, Smith replied. “Absolutely.”

KHON 2 came across one resident who heard the concerns and felt the conditions worked for the carnival.

“I had to pass this way several times,” said Ingrid Kortvelesy. “I didn’t think it affected traffic too much to my knowledge” KHON2 asked if she would like to see another carnival at the same site again. “I don’t see why not.”

KHON2 was unable to reach both the Kamehameha Schools, owner of the Great Lawn and football coach Rich Miano for comment. as to how much money was raised by the carnival. Donna Smith of E.K.Fernandez says her company is not allowed to disclose financials.

There were 30,000 people who attended the carnival.

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