Back in the saddle: Honoka‘a Western Week returns full throttle May 19-29

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The Big Island’s premier paniolo party is back and plans to pack a pretty good punch, so shake off your spurs, shine up your saddle, put on your cowboy best — boots included — and trot on over to Honoka‘a for the fun.

Photo from a past Honoka‘a Western Week. This year’s celebration of the Hāmākua Coast community’s paniolo heritage and unique cultural blend features a roundup of events fit for everyone from May 19-29. (All photos from past Western Week events by Sarah Anderson Photography)

Western Week rides into the Hāmākua Coast community at full throttle from May 19-29, celebrating paniolo heritage and the town’s unique cultural blend with a roundup of events fit for everyone from the smallest buckaroo to the most seasoned wrangler.

The shindig kicks off at 7 p.m. May 19 with the opening of bidding for the silent auction. A tempting selection of items is being offered, including nights at luxury hotels, gift certificates to favorite restaurants, one-of-a-kind art, fabulous fashion and rounds of golf on some of the island’s best courses.

The auction is online only, so bargain hunters are encouraged to register in advance by clicking here or texting the word “Honokaa” to 56651. Bidding closes at 7 p.m. May 29.


Other events during the festival will feature movies, the Portuguese Bean Soup and Smoke Meat Contest, an all-day farm festival, the famous parade and a block party with live music and dancing in the streets and the ever-popular Saloon Girls and Cowboys Got Talent Contest, plus the Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo.

Except for a nominal admission charge for the rodeo, the fun is free and everyone is invited.

Collectible Honoka‘a Western Week buttons will be available to purchase for $5 as a show of support, as well as “insurance.” Although not required for the block party, anyone without a button risks being thrown into the hoosegow by roving sheriffs. All in good fun, of course.


Here is a schedule of what’s happening throughout town during Western Week:

May 19

  • 7 p.m.: Free screening of the documentary “Paniolo O Hawai‘i — Cowboys Of The Far West” at Honoka’a People’s Theatre. Followed by line dancing onstage for everyone.

May 20

  • 3 to 10 p.m.: Western Week Block Party on Mamane Street. Live music, food trucks and vendor booths, the Saloon Girls and Cowboys Got Talent contest and dancing in the streets with the Saddle Road Band.
  • 4 p.m.: Western Week Parade. Featuring horses and riders sporting the flags and colors of their ranches, plus gleaming vintage cars and a whole lot more.
Photo of the 2023 collectible Honoka‘a Western Week button. (From Honoka‘a Western Week Instagram page)

May 21

  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Hāmākua Harvest Farm Festival: Canoe Crops. The day starts with a Hawaiian blessing and hula then continues with entertainment, ag education and fresh local-raised food. This year’s theme celebrates ʻulu, ʻuala, kalo, maiʻa and niu. For more information, contact [email protected].

May 22

  • 5:30 p.m.: Meet Sheriff Larry along with a veteran veterinarian and a few horse whisperers in front of the Botelho Building after they finish taping their Cowboy Talk Story about famous and infamous horses.

May 23

  • 5 p.m.: Portuguese Bean Soup and Smoke Meat Contest at ʻĀhualoa Family Farms Mac Nut Factory. Guests will have the opportunity to sample the rich flavors of historic Honoka’a cooked up by contestants. First come, first served.

May 24

  • 3 to 5:30 p.m.: Keiki Roundup at the Rose Andrade Correia Stadium. Lots of cowboy and cowgirl games, pony rides and a grand finale Boot Scramble (cowboy boots required), with prizes for the winners.

May 25

  • 4 p.m.: Paniolo Storytime at Honoka‘a Public Library. Stories, crafts and a scavenger hunt. At 5 p.m., Friends of the Libraries-Hāmākua will host a book giveaway on the lanai and encyclopedic historian Boyd Bond will give a captivating talk about the origins of ranching and sugar in Hawai‘i.

May 26

  • 5 p.m.: Hootenany at Honoka’a Public House with food, drinks and fun for all ages.

May 27-29

  • Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo at the Rose Andrade Correia Stadium. Saturday is “slack,” the qualifying events, starting at 8 a.m. The finals begin at noon Sunday and Monday. Tickets are $12 at the gate, or $10 in advance from the Rodeo Queen and supporters.

Honoka‘a Western Week is put on by a posse of volunteers and supported by the Honoka‘a Business Association, Hāmākua-Kohala Health and many other sponsors. Donations are most welcome. Checks should be made payable to Honokaʻa Business Association and sent to P.O. Box 474, Honokaʻa HI 96727, attention: Honoka‘a Western Week. You can also show your support on Venmo by sending money to @honokaabusinessassociation.

For more information, visit the official website and follow Honoka‘a Western Week on Facebook and Instagram.


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