Although he’s been gone for nearly 25 years, E.K. Fernandez’s legacy lives on. You see it in the gleeful eyes of Hawaii’s children as they ride the merry-go-round or discover the sweet sugar rush of cotton candy. You see it in the teenagers as they play the carnival games and hop aboard every scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs thrill ride. And you see it in the older folks who watch the stage shows, check out the product sales and relive their youth.
At the carnival, everybody has a good time.
Major Carnivals & Fairs
Today, E.K. Fernandez Shows is a third-generation family business that provides entertainment for hundreds of thousands of Island residents and visitors each year. Major carnivals and fairs include the 50th State Fair, the Hawaii State Farm Fair, and Punahou Carnival on Oahu; the Kauai County Fair; Maui County Fair; Hawaii County Fair; and the Big Island Farm Fair.
The largest event is the 50th State Fair, which is staged on the grounds of Aloha Stadium in Halawa on Oahu. The month-long fair features the latest Midway rides and games, a petting zoo, food booths, special exhibits, live entertainment and much more.
How it All Started
Known affectionately as the “Barnum of the Pacific,” Fernandez is credited with bringing show business to the Islands nearly a century ago. The Honolulu-born entrepreneur purchased a motion picture camera in 1905 and began filming Hawaiian scenery and people. Fernandez then developed the films himself and projected them on a bedsheet in his backyard for the amusement of friends and family members. The shows were so popular that eventually, he began to charge admission.
Ten years later, in 1915, Fernandez staged Hawaii’s first circus. The show featured 20 performers and six animals, including a 400-pound bear that wrestled and skated. Fernandez also brought over a steam engine-powered Flying Jinny, also known as a “merry-go-round.” Soon, Fernandez scoured the globe for the finest circus acts. The famous Wallenda family and circus clown Emmett Kelly were among the headliners who performed at his popular circuses.
Fernandez passed away in November 1970.