WAILUKU - Even with preliminary numbers showing a 2 percent drop in crowd attendance, first-time Maui County Fair Director Karey Oura Kapoi said her goals were achieved and the event's mission was accomplished.
"I do think we had a fantastic weekend," Kapoi said Monday following the four-day 87th Maui County Fair.
Kapoi, who had previously served as an assistant to her predecessor, Sherri Grimes, took on the role of director with the support of Grimes.
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
Maui County Fair director Karey Oura Kapoi reflects on the event while taking a seat on the Wave Swinger on Monday morning.
"I was so flattered to be considered for this role," said Kapoi, who's employed as an income and retirement specialist for First Hawaiian Bank.
She said she has the "deepest, deepest gratitude" toward Grimes, her mentor; the County Fair board of directors; and the hundreds of volunteers who worked over the weekend to make the fair run smoothly at the War Memorial Complex.
None of the vendors ran out of food, yet all reported to Kapoi that they were happy with the outcome. "I think they were conservative on their estimates, but pleasantly surprised with the results," said Kapoi, referring to the nonprofit organizations that sponsor food booths to raise money for their charities and causes.
"They all said it was a good fair for them."
The 2008 final crowd count was 96,083, up more than 2,000, compared with 2007. Kapoi said the fair volunteers were still counting work passes and presale tickets and could not confirm for another day or two the final figures for this year's fair.
Preliminary estimates show a slight decline. "I don't think it's more than that," Kapoi said. "That's pretty impressive given the state of the economy."
Her goal was to provide a venue for the community to get together and have fun. "I think an escape, to provide an escape, and we did that."
She said she's unsure whether she'll serve as director for the 2010 fair, but she would like to be actively involved with the event. As director, Kapoi said she was able to visit with many of the fair participants including those involved in free displays such as the art and orchid shows.
"The organizations, the talent, it was mind-boggling. It was really nice for me to see all that firsthand," she said. Kapoi said she's been going to the fair since the age of 5 and often finds herself enjoying the variety of food available.
"I'm a regular at the food booths. I think they know me by name," she joked.
Kapoi said she's unable to take in the rides because of motion sickness, but she said E.K. Fernandez, the operating company for rides, impressed her with its commitment to hire dozens of Maui residents to oversee the rides.
* Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at email@example.com.