CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Parent volunteers Ruth Foster Chang, left, Caroline Murayama and Myra Conant shared a laugh about all the work involved in heading the general store committee for the 'Iolani Fair. CLICK FOR LARGE
Moms on a mission
Preparing the 'Iolani Fair favorites involves an army of volunteers
AMONG THEM, these women have 10 children and four full-time jobs, but for the last many weeks they've also become bakers, picklers and food-packers. All because they dare to have children enrolled at 'Iolani School, and the annual fair approaches this weekend, with all of its annual demands.
Myra Conant, Carin Makishima, Caroline Murayama and Ruth Foster Chang -- all second-grade moms -- share the task of supervising more than 100 volunteers preparing all the homemade foods for the fair's general store (dubbed Mercado de 'Iolani in honor of this year's "Fiesta Fever" theme).
» When: Noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
» Place: 'Iolani School, 563 Kamoku St., Moiliili
» Admission: Free; scrip sold to benefit school activities
» Call: 943-2339
It's the kind of commitment that can consume your life.
"I haven't done laundry for one whole month," Conant said. "I'm lucky my husband is doing the laundry."
Under the constitution of volunteerism at 'Iolani, it is the job of the parents of second-graders to run the market, which means weeks devoted to making mango chutney, kim chee, salsa, pickled mango, boiled peanuts, mochi and 11,000 cookies.
If you've ever volunteered to run so much as a bake sale at a preschool you know it takes organization and no small amount of effort. Multiply that by a million when it comes to the gargantuan fundraising fairs put on by the likes of 'Iolani and Punahou Schools.
Last year's 'Iolani Fair made a $300,000 profit. The market grossed $23,000. "We want to net $23,000," Conant said of this year's aims.
"We are energetic, we are fun, we are desperate."
Actually, the four moms-in-charge put a smiling face on their indentured servitude.
Chang remembers somewhat fondly collecting the mangoes that one family donated for pickling. They all had to be peeled, sliced and seeded. "My mother-in-law and I prepped it all. We had 19 2-gallon Ziploc bags. We got to know each other really well."
The end is in sight, though.
"Sunday I'm booking a spa," Chang said. "Guaranteed by the end of the day, my bones are going to be cracking."
THE 'IOLANI Fair has many classic treats, but Karen Kobayashi singled out the Almond Cookies she purchased last year when she wrote for a recipe. "They were crisp and flaky with just the perfect almond accent."
Volunteer bakers made 1,000 this year, to be sold for $5 for a bag of 14 to 16.
'Iolani Fair Almond Cookies
2 -1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
2 teaspoons almond extract
Red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Combine flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Cut shortening into dry ingredients. Add egg and almond extract.
Mix and knead dough until soft. Form into small balls (about size of a half-dollar). Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Flatten with thumb. Press a dot of red food coloring into center of cookie (use the end of a chopstick). Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.
Nutritional information unavailable.
» More fare from the fair