The Hawaii State Department of Education's Office of Hawaiian Education invites the public to enjoy an evening celebrating the Hawaiian language at the 50th State Fair on June 29.
The fair grounds at Aloha Stadium will be staffed Friday night from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. by Hawaiian-speaking volunteers alongside E.K. Fernandez staff at rides, games and food booths. Signage throughout the fair will include signs in Hawaiian, or 'olelo Hawai'i, for everything from food menus to rules for carnival games.
Both Hawaiian and English speakers are encouraged to attend the Hawaiian language night, which organizers are calling Kaniwala, the Hawaiian word for carnival. A website has been set up at http://kaniwa.la/ with helpful vocabulary and terminology in Hawaiian and English.
"It's not an 'olelo Hawai'i-only night. It's about trying to increase the visibility of 'olelo Hawai'i in the community," said Kau'i Sang, director of the Office of Hawaiian Education (OHE).
The office oversees Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai'i, the department's Hawaiian language immersion program, which marked its 30th anniversary during the 2017-18 school year.
"We want our Hawaiian language students in our Kaiapuni schools to be able to see 'olelo Hawai'i valued in more contexts than just school," Sang said. "And for non-speakers, it's an opportunity to start to develop their own value for 'olelo Hawai'i."
OHE educational specialist Anela Iwane added, "We're trying to increase the number of venues and spaces for the Hawaiian language to be normalized as it's one of two official languages in the state."
Event sponsors are providing free admission to the first 4,000 fair-goers who ask for their admission ticket in Hawaiian. (Hint: "I likiki kaniwala na'u, ke 'olu'olu?" or May I have a carnival ticket, please?)
"E.K. Fernandez is a 115-year-old kama'aina business. We're proud to support and be associated with this event to perpetuate the language and culture of Hawai'i and the Hawaiian people," said Donna Smith, executive vice president of E.K. Fernandez.