Honoka‘a Western Week Approaches

May 17, 2021, 6:39 AM HST
* Updated May 16, 9:47 AM
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What started in the 1940’s as “Rodeo Days” has grown into a weeklong celebration of paniolo heritage, during Honoka‘a Western Week, May 22-31, 2021. And, although the large gatherings won’t be happening due to public health restrictions, the 70+ year tradition is alive and well.

“Back in the day, the Andrade Hotel would fill up with visiting cowboys, sometimes 8 or 9 to a room,” says Honoka‘a Western Week chair Michelle Hartman. “Restaurants and bars were busy, and spirits were high all around. The celebration grew year after year, and today’s Honokaa Western Week gives everybody—men, women and children—a chance to kick up their heels and release their inner paniolo, even if some of it is online this year.”

The scaled-back festivities still celebrate the town’s, and the Island’s, paniolo heritage, with food, music, storytelling, keiki activities, and more.

Throughout the month of May, visitors to Honoka‘a will see shops, restaurants and other businesses decorated paniolo style, and many establishments will offer discounts and specials to those sporting Honoka‘a Western Week T-shirts and buttons from years past. A fun series of artist-made “photostops” designed and painted by local artists along Mamane Street invite strollers to pose for selfies or photos with their friends, and the new Honoka‘a Heritage Center in the Botelho Building will highlight a special Paniolo Exhibit in their front windows.

On May 22, entries open for a new event, the Best Dressed Western Costume Contest. This is an online costume contest open to all, so women, men, keiki, families, even pets are encouraged to dress up in their best paniolo duds, take a photo, and email to [email protected], or post on the HonokaaWesternWeek Facebook Page and use the hashtag #HonokaaWesternWeek.


Judges will award prizes for the Most Creative and Best Overall entries on May 31. All winners receive a custom-cut Western Week tshirt, and the Best Overall also receives a one-hour photo shoot with photographer Evan Bordessa.
There will also be a Most Popular winner, and how-to-vote details will be posted on Facebook. And, because what is a costume contest without moseying down the cat walk, ALL contestants are invited to be in the Runway Show during Hāmākua Harvest Farm FestivalDay, May 23 at 1 p.m.


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