Mililani Uka Prepares for Annual Fall Fest


Timothy Won

In addition to the teacher-made food, Mililani Uka has partnered with multiple food trucks to provide variety for patrons. From left to right: Christina Martinez, Andrea Ethridge, Heather Wilhelm, Ann Harrison-Nakata, Joslyn Hawanyak, and Ernie Fukumoto.

Maiya Ezawa

Fall Fest is an annual one night event put on by the elementary schools of Mililani, featuring food, games and community auctions for students and their families to participate in. Mililani Uka Elementary School held their own on Nov. 3, as they have for the past 25 years. Each grade level is responsible for providing a food stand and a game, where all of the proceeds from the night are collected by them to fundraise for future field trips or events.

“Students enjoy interacting with their families and introducing them to their teachers and staff members. Our former students love coming back to this event and sharing in the memories that they have had and giving back to our school, volunteering with us through the high school clubs, which they were introduced to while attend- ing the Fall Fest—sometimes working side by side with them,” said Parent Community Networking Center (PCNC) Coordinator Ann Harrison-Nakata, who helps with planning.

While the event is student focused, parents and other relatives also enjoy attending and socializing at the event. “(Fall Fest is a) safe family event with many activities for their children to enjoy. They are able to mingle with other families that they may not see often. We have great bargains which include baked goods, plants and produce at our country store. They can relax and enjoy entertainment in the cafeteria. We keep our costs reasonable so that more of our families will be able to come and enjoy the event and still keep within their budget. We also have a silent auction that our community vendors and parents provide the items to be bid on,” said Mililani Uka Principal Heather Wilhelm.

In regards to the planning of the event, the school collaborates with outside groups in the Mililani community. “Our parent organization, the Hui ‘O Mililani Uka, coordinates this event. Each grade level, as well as resource teachers, plan a game as well as a food to sell. We also have our student organizations and clubs who are invited to have a game. Our volunteers for the evening are our parents, military partners, student groups from Mililani High School—Interact, ROTC, Key Club—Community Lions, Rotary, Kumon, Mari’s Gardens,” said Wilhelm.

While the event is not advertised to the community as a whole, Mililani Uka Elementary still sees a large influx of people annually. “Last year our event was published in ‘The Voice.’ Working this event I estimate we see approximately 3,000-4,000 each year for this event,” said Nakata.

Despite this, the program has expanded organically through the years. “Through the years the word has spread on its own and we are getting more people outside the school and extended families coming. If we were to advertise we would have to plan to have more food available for sale as we normally order enough for what we feel our families would need. In most cases, we do sell out of our food by the end of the evening,” said Wilhelm.

Every year the school works to expand and improve their Fall Fest through parent and student feedback, while trying to keep the costs low. “We always want (to) have activities for our families to enjoy, so grade levels sometimes change their games and types of food they will sell. We have also added outside food trucks to broaden the food choices for our families. Previously, we added the entertainment in the cafeteria and the silent auction. We have also added educational displays like Keiki ID,” said Wilhelm.

However, they work to keep certain aspects of the event the same from year to year. “The profits are used by the teachers for grade level students. Our military partners also participate as volunteers wherever they are needed. Many times they help us in our food booths. Our parent organization, Hui ‘O Mililani Uka coordinates this event for us,” said Wilhelm.

In addition to Mililani Uka Elementary School’s Fall Fest, Mililani Waena Elementary is hosting their annual Fun Fair on Nov. 17. This event is similar to the Fall Fest in that every grade level provides food and games for students.