“Our rodeo community is a great example of why we’re called the ‘aloha state,’ as we all work together to show love, support, and hospitality to one another,” says Casera Silva, a Hawaiian rodeo contestant.
Hawaiian rodeo is made up of their history and culture. If you ask anyone why they love Hawaiian rodeo, their answer is either the community, the culture, or the history.
Some of their unique events were started similarly to how tie-down and other rodeo events began- from a history of ranching.
“Back in the early days of cattle ranching, cattle were allowed to range free through the island,” explains Noel Tancayo, Miss Rodeo Hawaii. “Po’o Wai U is a technique that was developed by the Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) to capture these free-range pipi ‘ahiu (wild cattle) and it is still used today. The animal would be lassoed and tied to a tree, often a Y shaped tree known as the ‘aumana’. In today’s rodeo, we replicate the aumana in the arena. The competing Paniolo will have to rope a steer by the horns, pull the steer to the aumana and tie with a nonchoked knot.”
“Another event that can old be found in Hawaiian rodeos is an event we call ‘Double Mugging’ This event is an exciting and sometimes humorous event. Two paniolo will work together to rope and knock a steer to the ground and tie up three of its legs. It’s often a wrestling match between men or women and the steer,” Noel says, laughing.
Hawaiian cowboys and cowgirls take great pride in their community.
“In my opinion, the greatest part about rodeoing here in Hawaii is having the sense that your island and state is so proud of every accomplishment you achieve, whether it be big or small,” says Casera.
“I see our rodeo community as an ‘ohana’ (family), since we all know each other,” continues Casera. “As you begin to travel and rodeo on different islands, you meet people who become ohana and help you on your journey. Whether it be picking up your horses from the barge that they ship on or hosting you at their house, it’s a unique bond that our rodeo community has created.”
Noel agrees, “Most Hawaii rodeos, I have family with me as well. If on another island, the loved ones I have not seen in a while from that island would come to watch and support me. Hawaii has a small rodeo community, everyone mostly knows each other, and that’s what makes competition so much more fun.”
All photos are courtesy of Jeni Jo Photography from the Kauai Rodeo in Koloa, Hawaii.