The rise of the American West happened a lot earlier – and a lot more westerly – than most people realize. With the introduction of cattle to the Hawaiian Islands at end of the 18th century, a need quickly arose for experts to tend to the burgeoning industry. An influx of experts from North America – including the vaqueros of Mexico – gave rise to the paniolo: the Hawaiian cowboy. Combining their love of the land inherited from their Hawaiian roots and their skills and vibrant attire of colorful pouches, long spurs, braided lariats, and floppy wide-brimmed hats from their Mexican teachers, the paniolo quickly became the thing of lore and legend in Hawai‘i. This year, the 5th generation of those true pioneers celebrates and commemorates the paniolo tradition with the 43rd annual Paniolo Parade in Waimea, one of our favorite events on the Big Island calendar of events.
Big Island Activities at this Cowboy Affair
This September 15, the parade will commence at Waimea Cherry Blossom Park at 10am and continue on to the Waimea baseball fields. Real life, working paniolos will take a day off of working their functional cattle ranches for this special parade. They will be joined by pa`u riders, hula troops, and the royal society Ahahui Ka’ahumanu Waimea Chapter as they showcase the lifestyle, skills, and culture of this unique piece of Hawai‘i’s history. The parade will consist of horses adorned in their finest, along with floats and displays from local schools, churches, and business. Kids can join the “pooper scooper” brigade and meet their favorite horses, while adults will enjoy browsing the fine crafts on display by local artisans and traditional craftsmen.
This even on the Big Island calendar of events is part of the Hawai‘i Island Festival which runs from September 7 to September 15. Events are family friendly and an excellent way to introduce yourself to the Hawaiian culture, while learning more about the history of this unique and beautiful place.