High shipping prompts Maui carnival cancellation, more neighbor island events could follow

E.K. Fernandez says a neighbor island carnival has been canceled, and more could follow suit.

Maui County Carnival was scheduled to take place April 6-9 at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku.

But E.K. Fernandez says costly rates are preventing them from shipping over the necessary equipment from Oahu.

Vice president Donna Smith says rates to bring the carnivals and fairs to the neighbor islands jumped 40 percent in the last three years. The company tried to negotiate a competitive price, but couldn’t come to an agreement.

E.K. Fernandez uses Young Brothers to bring the equipment in, and this time, it would have cost around $200,000 to put on the carnival.

Smith says prices for rides and games would have gone up as a result. “You’d be looking at close to $5. Who wants to pay $5 to have a child ride the merry-go-round, or $10 to ride the Zipper?” she said.

In the end, the company says it didn’t want to pass on the cost to its customers.

“It was a decision. Do you pay this exorbitant cost or do you cancel?” Smith said. “I think the vast majority of people would be upset with us if we raised our prices so much that you wouldn’t call us affordable family entertainment.”

E.K. Fernandez says it’s been bringing fun to Maui since 1916, and this is the first time that an event has been canceled for something other than bad weather.

“We want to apologize to them for not coming, because we would have truly liked to have gone there,” Smith said. “It was a nice event last year, and we were looking forward to doing it again this year.”

E.K. Fernandez says the problem could potentially affect future neighbor island events, including county fairs on Kauai and Hawaii Island.

“We’ll see. Obviously we hope that we’ll be able to work out something so that we can go to the neighbor islands, maintain that affordability, and not have to cancel on the neighbor islands, and I think that we probably will,” she said. “We have to work out the cost of each of those neighbor island fairs and make a decision.”

Roy Catalani, vice president of Young Brothers, released the following statement in response:

Young Brothers is deeply committed to the communities and the neighbor islands we serve. We share EK Fernandez’s concern for the rising costs that we all experience and are committed to seeing the county fair tradition continue.

To deliver on this commitment, Young Brothers offers EK Fernandez a special voyage to take all of their equipment on a single trip. As a charter for a single customer, this also affords EK Fernandez a discount of more than one-third over our tariff rates. EK Fernandez’s total shipping cost to the Maui Fair would have been a nine percent increase over last year — the first year that Young Brothers has delivered cargo for this particular fair. A little over half of this increase, about five percent, is attributable to State wharfage charges (which is used for State harbor improvements). The other four percent of this fee covers inflation and the cost for Young Brothers do to business, including increases in fuel, unscheduled labor and voyage costs.

An advance quote for this special voyage was provided to EK Fernandez, however, we did not hear back from them until three days before the scheduled barge departure. This timing allows us no opportunity to work with EK Fernandez on this matter, such as collaborating with the State Department of Transportation, the County Fair Board and EK Fernandez to explore whether it would be possible to reduce State wharfage charges for the benefit of County fairs.

We offer, and hope, to have a discussion with these interested parties in order to reach a resolution before the Maui County Fair in October and other County fairs scheduled statewide.

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