'Iolani Fair's attractions win out over gray skies, light rain
• Photo gallery: Iolani Fair
By David Waite
Advertiser Staff writer
The 'Iolani Fair began just before noon yesterday on the school's baseball field under overcast skies and cool northerly winds.
But an occasional light sprinkle did nothing to dampen the spirits of the throngs of students and parents who had come to enjoy the games, rides, entertainment — and food — that are part of the annual event.
Minutes after the fair opened, lines were already forming behind the booths offering two basic staples for elementary and high school students: pizza and french fries.
Other choices included Korean kalbi, steak and shrimp, barbecue beef, fried noodles, shave ice and chili dogs. Another perennial favorite, the malassada stand, operated by the 'Iolani Class of 2011, was doing brisk business as well.
'Iolani Headmaster Val Iwashita said the fair raises an average of about $100,000 annually, depending on the weather. Proceeds from the event go into a special fund, with some of the money used for scholarships and equipment purchases.
While private schools across the state have reported declining student numbers due primarily to the slumping economy, enrollment at 'Iolani has remained "very constant," Iwashita said.
The school is averaging six to seven applications for each opening in grades six through 12. There are a total of 1,840 students attend 'Iolani in kindergarten through grade 12.
"We're able to be pretty selective and we're fortunate to have a very loyal following," Iwashita said.
While enrollment has remained steady, applications for financial aid are up a bit due to the lagging economy, he said.
Although the annual fair is an important fundraiser for the school, Iwashita said the primary purpose is to provide a fun event for the 'Iolani community of teachers, parents, faculty and staff.
Fourth-graders Trevor Tamura and Norton Kishi began the afternoon by giving the Mind-winder ride a workout.
"That ride can make you nauseated," Tamura said knowingly, after spinning as hard as the two boys could make the ride go for the better part of five minutes.
"It was our first time today, but we're definitely going back later," Kishi said.
A huge white tent spanned much of the outfield and was lined on both sides by nearly 100 yards of games with names like "Frog Bog" and "Lani Moo Milk Bottle Toss."
Parents Francis and Leigh Jusuf, whose daughter, Maya, is an 'Iolani kindergartener, were overseeing the Lani Moo game.
"We'll be here for 12 hours today and 12 tomorrow," Francis Jusuf said.
He said his family used to come to the fair even before his daughter enrolled at 'Iolani.
"It's for a good cause and I think 'Iolani is a good institution for the community," Jusuf said.
First-grader Ryan Kai Kinningham of Mililani managed to plop a softball down the throat of one of the milk cans and came away with a small stuffed penguin for his efforts.
"It's not that hard," he said of his winning underhand toss.
"All week long I've been getting more and more excited," he said.