HONOLULU (KHON2) — Popular carnivals, like the Punahou Carnival are finally back this year. But with fewer thrill rides according to E.K. Fernandez President Scott Fernandez. He said it all boils down to safety.

They spin and dip you, and rock and flip you, nothing gets your heart pumping quite like a roller coaster ride.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

E.K. Fernandez has been entertaining families in Hawaii for over a century

“We started 1903. So we made it to 120 (years),” Fernandez said.

But he said they almost didn’t survive the pandemic.

“We were blocked out for 28 months. And in 2021, we were shut down. And these are, you know, they had devastating effects on economics,” he explained.

During that time he said they also lost a lot of their skilled workers.

“Our staff, a lot of them left the islands, wanted to go work for other people, and rebuilding that team that knows how to set it up and tear it down quickly. It’s going to take some time.”

Without adequately trained crews, Fernandez said they’ve had to scale back what they can offer for some events, especially those that only last a couple of days.

In just a few weeks this grassy field in front of Punahou School will be packed with people for Punahou’s first carnival since 2020. But this year it will be missing the bigger rides.

“The good news is that we are going to be at Punahou, the Bad news is not going to be the same size,” Fernandez explained.

He said they’ll have 10 rides including the Merrie-Go-Round.

“Some of these rides, people say, ‘Oh, it’s only little kiddie rides.’ All those little kiddie rides they cost $50,000. So they’re not just little kiddie rides.”

He said they don’t have the right crew or enough time to set up the larger thrill rides like the Zipper, the Fury or Zero Gravity.

“All these rides, you don’t have water, you have to know how to set them up, then we have to inspect them and operate them in a safe manner. The one thing we won’t do for any amount of, for any reason whatsoever, is to put up something that’s not right. Or without the right team.”

Fernandez said the 50th State Fair, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend and runs through the Fourth of July, will have it all because they have ample time to set up and are flying skilled crews in to help.

“So that same experience that you’ve had at the State Fair over years and years, will be there,” said Fernandez.

“All have our friends and families get on these rides. So we’re gonna make sure it’s righteous, it’s gonna be pono. You know, it’s gotta be done right. So we’re not going to do it any other way.”

The Punahou Carnival will be held on February 3 and 4 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The theme this year is the Pun Prix ’23: Pedal to the Medal.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

The 50th State Fair kicks off Friday, May 27 at the Aloha Stadium.