Pana’ewa Hosts Presidents’ Day Weekend Rodeo Tradition
Hawai’i’s paniolo celebrated their culture with Big Island residents and visitors at the 24th Annual Hawai’i Horse Owners – Pana’ewa Stampede Rodeo on Saturday.
Under clear blue skies, rodeo fans gathered onto the packed stands at the Pana’ewa Equestrian Center and Rodeo grounds in Hilo to watch cowboys and cowgirls of all ages compete in events.
Among the events were Open Team Roping, Youth Sheep Riding, Century Team Roping, Junior Bull Riding, Youth Dummy Roping, Bull Riding, Youth Barrel Racing, Wahine Barrel Racing, Youth Team Roping, Wahine Breakaway Roping, and Calf Tie Down Roping. Spectators were also treated to special events that are found only in Hawai’i.
One of these unique events was Po’o Wai U, which involves a Y shaped tree, also known as an aumana, which represents a real tree. The cowboy must lasso a steer by the horns and tie it to the tree using a non-choke knot. This technique demonstrates how the Paniolo would capture cattle in the wild.
Double Mugging and Wahine Double Mugging are unique to the islands. In this event, cooperation is key. Two cowboys work together to rope, knock down to the ground, and tie up a cow by three of its legs.
In all of the events, timing is everything. The paniolo who is fastest to complete an event, or in the case of Bull and Sheep Riding, the paniolo who can stay on for the required time and gain the highest score for that time, becomes the top contender for the event. After two days of competing in the rodeo, the top scoring cowgirls and cowboys from each event win a buckle and other prizes.
The Pana’ewa Stampede Rodeo, which is held during Presidents’ Day Weekend every year, is a family event that spreads the spirit of aloha and the country lifestyle on the Big Island.
Along with the contestants, whose horse riding and cattle handling skills enthralled the spectators, rodeo fans were treated to laughter caused by the fun loving rodeo clown JJ Harrison and rodeo announcer Buster Barton, who travel all the way from Washington state to be a part of this annual event.
On Saturday, rodeo fans witnessed the dancing, singing and laughter of Harrison as he not only helped protect the paniolo during the rodeo, but also provided fun entertainment for the crowd in between events. At one point of the rodeo, Harrison asked the kids in the audience to join him in the arena to dance, and by the middle of the rodeo, he had the whole crowd singing along to classic songs.
Rodeo fans witness exciting events in the arena and also had the opportunity to browse through a number of vendors, selling items from jewelry to tack and snacks. Food vendors were also there with island favorites, barbecue and refreshing drinks.
All of the paniolo fun and excitement will continue on Sunday at the Pana’ewa Equestrian Center for day two of the 24th Annual Hawai’i Horse Owners – Pana’ewa Stampede Rodeo, with cowboy church at 9 a.m. and the grand entry and rodeo show starting at 11 a.m.