ABOVE: Balloon artist Duane Nishimura places a balloon hat on Kilipohi Faanunu-Soares, 2, at the Christ Church Episcopal UpCountry Faire in Kealakekua on Monday.
BELOW: Kaya Johnson, 5, gets her face painted by Lea Hashimoto at the fair. (Photos by Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
The line to get balloon creations never seemed to shorten Monday morning during the UpCountry Faire at Christ Church Episcopal.
That booth, and one to win a goldfish, seemed especially popular during the annual festival, which raises money for the church and Queen Emma Community Center on its property. The festival doubled the number of vendors for this year, chairwoman Jeanette Wessel said.
“We wanted it bigger,” she said. “We’d like to grow every year.”
The committee doesn’t track how many people attend the free festival. Several vendors volunteered their time for the event, Wessel said. The balloon maker, for example, just asked the church to buy him some balloons. Wessel said people volunteering their time like that remind her that “generosity is not dead.”
New this year was a booth featuring KARES, a North Kohala animal rescue group. Volunteers allowed festival goers to pet dogs available for adoption.
In the vendor area, below the church, people could pick up treats for themselves or their animals, as well as items meant to pamper or entertain.
The busiest area of the festival, as always, was the row of games, from ring toss to dart throws. Children handed over tickets to play, receiving small prizes, from stickers to fake tattoos, for participating.
Kelsi Clarke, 6, wearing a pink and white balloon crown and sporting a rainbow face painting, said she had already tried out a game involving rubber ducks and a bouncy house.
The best part, so far, she said, was “going to the petting zoo,” where she petted “all of them. Because I like animals.”
Clarke, who helped her mom bake fudge Sunday night to sell in the church’s bake sale, said she was also looking forward to a magic show later in the day.
Jerome Santiago, 6, donned a coordinated set of balloons — a football helmet and a football, compete with laces drawn in black marker — after finishing his turn at a dart game.
“The best part (of the fair) is the slide one,” Santiago said, adding he went down the big, inflatable slide plenty of times.
He also won a prize at one of the booths.
“I got a chameleon, the ones you throw on the floor,” he said.
What makes for a successful fair? Wessel had an answer.
“That we had fun doing it,” she said. “That the kids in our community can come on the grounds and be familiar with the area. That people are more familiar with the area here. We want to help promote local businesses.”