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Punahou Carnival 2009

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went over and checked out the fun and festivities at the 2009 Punahou Carnival. This popular annual event took place this weekend on Friday and Saturday, February 6th and 7th from 11am to 11pm. The theme this year was “Lights! Camera! Carnival! Keepin’ it “Reel”” and hosted by the class of 2010. Man, that makes me feel OLD!

Contrary to the reputation of it notoriously RAINING whenever the Punahou Carnival takes place, this year it was nothing but clear skies. And the HOUSE was PACKED…

Being this is a food blog, I try to stick with that theme first and foremost, and along with the rides, skills games, displays and entertainment, the Punahou Carnival certainly got da’ grinds!

By far the most popular food item everyone seeks out at the Punahou carnival are the Malasadas, and there was no shortage of a supply of them at that tent…

Notice the price on the sign says it’s 2 scrips (25 cents/scrip) for 1 Malasada, or 20 scrips for a dozen. So you get 2 free if you buy by bulk. There’s also two types of lines: one of which you can only buy up to 1 dozen at a time, and the other 2 dozen at a time, max’.

The supplies and manpower (or should we say student body power) required to keep up with Malasada demand is logistically intense…

Punahou Carnival’s Malasada Factory

We didn’t buy any to eat while there, but took a few dozen home to share with family. Here’s how it looks…

Punahou Carnival’s famous Malasada, 2 scrips (50 cents) each or 20 scrips ($5) per dozen

Notice it’s shaped like a doughnut with a puka in it, which is different than the oblong ball shape with no puka in it sold at Leonard’s and Champion Bakery, yet it tastes fantastic. It has a little bit firmer, denser texture and chewiness than those aforementioned eateries , yet an undeniably true Malasada at the core of the recipe. Punahou could probably open their own Malasada shop to operate year-found and do quite well with it. Perhaps run it by their own students studying accounting, business and/or economics (free labor!).

Another popular food item at this event is their Portuguese Bean Soup…

The Portuguese Bean Soup is available in three sizes…

I purchased the 32 oz. size to go, which comes out to $5.75. Here’s how it looked when I plated it at home (so you can see all the ingrediments in it)…

Punahou Carnival – Portuguese Bean Soup (served at home in a china bowl)

As you can tell by the photo, this soup is very hearty and full of all the right goodies, including generous cuts of Portuguese Sausage, Kidney Beans, diced carrots, celery, macaroni, kidney beans and cabbage. Plus, they’re all tender and and al dente, not under nor mushy and overcooked. My only complaint would be that it was slightly undersalted (which is good for those watching their sodium) and could have used a little more smokey ham-hock flavor in the broth. After adding just a dash of table salt at home, it was all good. Actually, really ono! I’m glad I have a big tub of it. That’ll be good to have for lunch in the upcoming work week.

Then there was a noodle stand…

These are chinese style noodles, served either with Charsiu or vegetarian…

Here’s the vegetarian bowl of noodles…

Punahou Carnival – Vegetarian Bowl of Noodles, 11 scrips ($2.75)

If dry noodles aren’t your thing, there’s always saimin…

Notice the Saimin brand is Okahara, which they were selling that large bowl for just $1.75 each. Those huge triangle musubi are just 75 cents each, the maki sushi (wrapped in white wax paper) just $1.50 each, and cone sushi also just $1.50 each. The prices here are really good!

My girlfriend bought a few rolls of the Maki Sushi, as well as the Barbecue Chicken Plate from another booth. Here’s that plate…

Punahou Carnival – BBQ Chicken Plate ($6) with Maki Sushi ($1.50) on the side

Got saimin? Good. Now all you need is a burger to go along with it!…

Again, very good prices…

PC exchange rate: 1 scrip = 25 cents

So before leaving, I also picked up a teri burger to go. Here it is…

Pretty much your average May’s Teri Burger. Could have used more teri sauce on it, that’s for sure. Also more seared edges on the patty. After doctoring it at home by adding some mayo, lettuce and tomato, it was all good. Especially for just $1.75, a price for burgers practically unheard of anywhere else nowadays.

Gotta’ love the fun design of these nostalgic portable carnival concession stands…

I didn’t ask this lady what was in these grape and Ninja Turtle-shaped bottles…

That wraps up all the food booths I took photos of, although there was more than that there, including Corn on the Cob, Gyros, Hawaiian Plates, Tacos and Nachos, Ice Cream and Smoothies.

Before we move along to the rides and skill games, let’s look where exactly everything is on this handy-dandy 3-D foam core map of the carnival grounds they provided…

Punahou Carnival 2009 grounds map

By far the most imposing structure erected here was the towering Century (Ferris) Wheel…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Century Wheel c/o E.K. Fernandez

Another E.K. Fernandez staple, the Zipper…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Zipper c/o E.K. Fernandez

and the Wave Swinger…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Wave Swinger c/o E.K. Fernandez

the Inverter…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Inverter c/o E.K. Fernandez

the Fire Ball…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Fire Ball c/o E.K. Fernandez

Pharoah’s Fury…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Pharoah’s Fury c/o E.K. Fernandez

Cliff Hanger…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Cliff Hanger c/o E.K. Fernandez

Getting dizzy yet from all these rides that spin ‘n turn you up, down, around and upside-down? Let’s take a breather in the middle of the midway and take in what’s going on around this action-packed place…

Now we’ll take a look at some of the rides geared more for the keiki…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Speedway c/o E.K. Fernandez

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Merry-Go-Round c/o E.K. Fernandez


Punahou Carnival ’09 – Helicopter c/o E.K. Fernandez

Crazy Plane…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Crazy Plane c/o E.K. Fernandez

Traffic Jam…

Punahou Carnival ’09 – Traffic Jam c/o E.K. Fernandez

Then there were the skills games…


Ring Toss

Freaky Froggy

Fish Swish

If US President and Buff ‘n Blue Alumnus Barack Obama ever attends a Punahou Carnival in the near future, chances are this is where the media photo ops will take place…


Strong Man

Prize items for sale (no game-playing necessary)….

Haku Leis for sale…

Here’s this year’s theme carnival t-shirt design “Lights! Camera! Action!”…

Complete the look with a matching pair of shorts!…

and cap…

and if you’re a wahine, matching hand bag…

As mentioned earlier, as well as most know by now, Punahou is the alma mater of U.S. President Barack Obama, not to mention AOL founder Steve Case and golf phenom Michelle Wie. Which brings on an even more inspiritional feeling upon looking around the campus grounds here, which is absolutely beautiful. Here’s a few photos of the buildings on this side of the campus…

I need a wide angle lens…

As for parking, we lucked-out, scooping up a legal vacant parallel space on a neighborhood side street. It seemed most folks were able to find somewhere to park, based on the droves of folks walking towards the campus along with us.

Well that was a fun and action-packed, yet relaxing way to spend a sunny and cool Saturday afternoon.

Related links:
Punahou: Carnival (official site)

18 thoughts on “Punahou Carnival 2009

  • February 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    what a great post! salivating over all that ono looking food!

  • February 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Eh Pomai,

    “I’m a Red Raider born and Red Raider bred,
    And when I die I’ll be a Red Raider dead,
    So rah, rah red, black and white,
    Rah,rah red, black and white,
    Rah, rah, ‘Iolani fight team fight!”

    So I very much dislike Punahou, even to this day!

    Any sports from my time, you could lose every other game but if you beat Punahou it was a successful season.

    Even remember one time after ‘Iolani beat Punahou in football, the then headmaster, Headmaster McLain, gave the school a “Headmaster’s Holiday” off the next day!

  • February 9, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Great pics. You bring a lot of Aloha and memories of the island food, places, the food (hehe, did I mention the food again?) for many of us that no longer live there. Mahalo for keeping us in cyber-touch with the ‘aina!

  • February 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the pictorial on the Carnival!! I haven’t been since I graduated… way back when dinosaurs walked the earth. I remember the food booths, White Elephant, and haku lei stands best. Glad things don’t change very much.

    And I forgive/understand Nate not being a Pun fan! My dad was the Iolani football team doctor back in the day. As a kid, I spent a lot of time on the Iolani campus. Even back then, the Buff ‘n Blue beat the Red Raiders more often than not!

  • February 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Well, Nate from Okinawa might be rabidly red black and white but I’m not that exclusive. Punahou carnival is an old-school (literally) carnival and I love it. I especially love that you got to the really important stuff first – the malasadas and the portuguese bean soup. Those are the best!

    Thanks for the descriptions. I could really smell the aromas and hear the sounds. Only wish I could taste all that great food again!

  • February 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    LisaAlso – Your name not Nadamoto by chance? Which one? The older one set my broken arm.

    And folks, I was the last ‘Iolani Carnival general chairman in 1991 was it? I forget. It was run by the ‘Iolani Alumni Association then. All of a sudden Headmaster Coon decided no more carnival because the school was going to make the football field a wonder. But netting with nearly $400,000, it wasn’t bad for the time in fund raising.

    Not putting down the ‘Iolani Fair now-a-days but we were OK for the time.

  • February 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, the Punahou Carnival is one of the things I miss about living in Hawaii!

    Of course, when we go to any fair, we do things in the opposite order of your photos: rides first, then food! Because there’s no use in losing good food on a ride! ;)

  • February 10, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I remember when I went to Mckinley High. We had also carnivals. Sold a lot of saimins and andagis which were hot seller. Mainland carnivals are so different but never less still fun.

  • February 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    “This popular annual event took place this weekend on Friday and Saturday, September 6th and 7th”


    ono looking food tho, especially the noodles! i’m a sucker for noodles! lol

  • February 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I think I don’t like my Portuguese Bean Soup with macaroni though.

  • February 13, 2009 at 5:43 am

    RobynT, really? I think pasta is the perfect marriage with the tomato-based broth of PBS. To each their own of course.

    Kaleolani, actually to be honest, my girlfriend said the Po’s noodles weren’t that great tasting. They LOOK good though.

    Betty, I didn’t grow up in the town area, but surely would have went to McKinley’s carnivals, had I. I do remember St. Ann’s School in Kaneohe had fairs every year, but it didn’t have the E.K. Fernandez rides, which makes all the difference.

    Jenny, we didn’t jump on any rides (an indicator I’m getting OLD!), so eating either first or upon leaving wasn’t an issue.

    Nate ’88, I really think, like any other beloved annual event of this magnitude, it’s not so much the food itself, but the ambiance and hype of it all that makes the food that much better. You could eat microwave popcorn at the Punahou Carnival, yet somehow while in that setting, had you not known it was microwaved, swear it was the best darned popcorn you ever ate. Ya’ know? I gotta’ say though, as far as the Malasadas, they’re outstanding.

    LisaAlso, Nate still sounds bitter about the Pun’s beating his Raiders team repeatedly. I might have to rub in the Crusaders. lol

    Gwyn, glad you appreciate the food, places, and um.. the places, and um… the places and um, oh, the FOOD!

    Nate, wow, when you get a day off from school for beating another team in a sporting event, now THAT’S BIG! I think I’ll hit up the owner of our company on considering that for UH Football next season! “Hey boss, how’s about this: every UH football game we win next season, we get the day off the coming Monday. Whadda’ya think?” ;-)

    Hi Kat!

  • February 13, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Pomai, your post on chopsticks is awesome! However I can’t leave a comment on it…

  • February 15, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Iolani No Ka Oi!

    But I did date a Punahou girl.


  • June 16, 2012 at 12:00 am

    The “Fireball??” I remember when I used to go to the 50th State Fair at Aloha Stadium, it was called the Ring of Fire…

    I never did go to the Punahou Carnival when I lived in Hawaii. Now that I live in Reno, the only carnival around is when the Reno Rodeo is on… and that’s once a year. Back home, you had the farm fair in Kapolei, the 50th State Fair (Is that the same as the Honolulu Jaycees Fair?), the Kakaako Carnival, and the Punahou Carnival, all three months or so between each other.

    • June 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I will say, the Punahou Carnival Malasadas and Portuguese Bean Soup are as good as everyone says it is and live up to the hype. The malasadas especially, I think are the best on the island, but don’t tell Leonard’s I said that. lol


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